Charolais – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre @ Powerscourt Theatre – Review by Frank L.
Written and performed by Noni Stapleton
Directed and developed by Bairbre Ni Chaoimh
April 20 – May 01, 2015
Time: 1pm (doors at 12.50pm)
Siobhan (Noni Stapleton), a stout, pregnant, fresh- faced young woman, in green wellington boots, blood be-splattered apron, carrying a long stainless steel knife blunders on stage and informs the audience that the woman who discovered the best way of killing animals was a vegetarian.
Immediately Siobhan has your attention. She is out of the ordinary. She is intimate as she tells how she likes big country boys’ squeezes, she likes country boys because they “talk slow and are mucky”.
She lets slip that Jimmy is her fella. He is obsessed by a Charolais heifer and has not that much time as a result for the charms of Siobhan. Jimmy’s widowed Mother Breda is another problem. She is snide, sharp and sarcastic. Jimmy is her boy. Siobhan is not made feel welcome in the farmhouse.
Stapleton has created a splendid script which explains the reason for Jimmy’s fascination with the heifer. Being a Charolais she is of French blood and has all the legendary amorous charms of the Gallic race. She is a femme fatale. Stapleton becomes in front of your eyes the embodiment of bovine sexual allure, a bovine temptress. You understand why the Charolais is competition in the mucky stakes. Stapleton moves with ease from being Siobhan to being the bovine temptress. It is all very tactile, it is lickable.
Meanwhile back at the ranch so to speak, Siobhan has to handle Breda but she is not short of ideas as to how she might do Breda in. However she and Breda reach a sort of uneasy respect for each other. But the Charolais also has views which must not be overlooked by Breda, Tom or Siobhan.
Noni Stapleton as performer and writer has created a triumph. She is entitled to be very proud of Charolais but also the direction of Bairbre ni Caoimh is to be lauded as it energises the entire script.
Charolais is an artist development initiative of Dublin Fringe Festival, Fishamble: the New Play Company and Irish Theatre Institute. Three institutions fostering the creation of new theatrical experiences. Charolais is great theatre, no more need be said.