Capitalism the Musical – Back Loft – Review by Frank L.
Written by Deirdre Murphy
Directed by Alain Servant
Deirdre Murphy is the driving force behind this energising but serious musical, although she probably would not make such claims herself. By judicious reading of the programme notes and a search of the website, it appears John Linnane is responsible for the ever-entertaining score as well as playing prominently in the band of five. The recent performance had a cast of seven super heroes, three emperors and three fairy god mothers. Each one of them is multi-talented and they combined their skills as singers, dancers, acrobats and musicians to create an omnipotent sense of sheer joy. What made it even better was this all took place in the Back Loft, a space which has been rescued from an earlier life as a commercial building of some sort. It is without pretence or artifice.
The fairy godmothers are in effect a Greek chorus in that they tell the story. The story is bang up to date with Rupert Murdoch getting a mention early on. The fairy godmothers are dressed in bright, full skirts: they are skilled in the art of movement and their rhythmic gyrations create a kaleidoscope of colour while with fine harmonies they tell the story.
The superheroes are the core of the piece. They are skilled as dancers and acrobats and they can sing. In other shows they would probably be described somewhat disparagingly as “workers”, “the poor” or such other generic term which might be used for those who are not, for whatever reason, economically able to generate surplus, here they are the heroes. As the audience find a seat (an eclectic collection of chairs, stools and cushions) one group of superheroes, holding each other’s arms, is on the floor in a constant movement of rising, through to upright and gradually subsiding to the floor only to rise again… a perpetual motion. The movement is measured and mesmerising. Once the performance proper begins each of these superheroes has a story to tell. Each is different. Each is under pressure. Their physical differences underlies the universality of their plight.
Their opening song “They say go get a job, where are the bloody jobs?” is sung in parts with each superhero describing his or her predicament. It propels the audience into the crux of the debate if your allotted spot is the bottom of the heap. At the top of the heap is the Emperor who is suitably needy of applause and has two lackeys to support his vanity. Andy Gallagher has the necessary the swagger to be utterly convincing as the Emperor. He combines considerable acrobatic skills and a back sufficiently muscular to enable him to lie on “a bed of nails”.
The story line is about the money in society, against gravity, trickling upwards. It combines the skills of theatre, dance and circus but it also has a sense of cabaret- the world of Weimar. Capitalism the Musical is an artistic attempt to identify some of the social, cultural and economic changes that are coursing through Ireland… it does so with style, verve and panache.
Capitalism the Musical returned for one night only (April 10th) in the Back Loft.
Photos by Turloch O’Broin