EX-hib-IT-US 2015 – Outlandish Theatre Platform – Review by Frank L.
Filmbase basement, Temple Bar, Dublin.
until Saturday May 16th at 7.30pm.
The unfamiliar spelling of the title is disconcerting. It is meant to be. The programme notes state “At outlandish theatre platform we aim to make original inter-media theatre, juxtaposing themes of identity and place within our urban landscape. We collaborate with communities and inter-disciplinary artists to create a dialogue within Ireland Now.” So even more disconcertingly for anyone schooled in the literary theatre, there is no writer or playwright. In addition, the basement of Filmbase is an awkward enough space which is not often used for theatre; in this instance it was not reached from the entrance hall but from a narrow, pokey doorway on Eustace Street. Therefore before the performance begins complacent theatre-going has been given a good old jolt. In fact, the various improvisations are a good backdrop in which to become acquainted with some of the issues that arise which confront residents when a block of flats veers towards redundancy.
The cast consists of seven, four women and three men and they act out a series of ten songs which have been created collaboratively. The awkwardness of the space is to an extent accentuated by the layout of the seating which is that of a horseshoe bisected. Morgan Cooke begins with extolling the delights of the Curragh, Newbridge and their nearby amenities such as the Kildare Village which has been proposed as a suitable destination for a resident of a condemned block of inner city flats. He repeats and repeats the advantages with increasing fervour… and fear. Their follows nine more songs each revealing a different facet to the issues which arise for those living in a community which is to be broken apart even if the reasons for so doing are on the surface worthy enough. Throughout there are video sequences of the streets of Dublin. It creates an atmosphere of the city.
The cast are flexible as they play a variety of different roles accompanied by Morgan Cooke on the keyboard. The issues are related with a mixed sense of self-esteem and pride. The magnitude of the problems, which are their daily lot, are told with a sense of frustration but also a determination to try to obtain that which they desire such as gainful employment. Self-pity has no place on this stage. The journey through the songs is varied and it is with a certain delight that “Two little boys” is woven into one of the songs. On reflecting on the entire sequence of songs, the momentum builds surreptitiously to the last two. The first a powerful dissertation of an addict performed by Phelim Drew accompanied by a chorus of the remainder of the cast which is followed by a pathe-news- saccharine-sweet- guided tour performed by Bernie O’Reilly of a ‘redundant but now restored for tourists’ flat, originally built fifty odd years ago. But before you have reach that point you have been brought face to face with the reality of the destruction of the community which comprised the flats.
The entire piece is thought provoking and the inhabitants of the condemned flats are as interesting, varied and various as any other randomly selected group of human beings. The cast and the crew which created it are to be congratulated in creating this humane piece. It deserves to be seen in many other venues, awkward or traditional, but it ought to be seen more widely.