Jericho – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review by P McGovern
February 20 – March 04, 2017
In Malaprop’s Jericho, an athletic young woman bounds onto the stage, striking triumphant poses for the ‘fans’, requesting special effects such as an echoing arena reverb and enhanced crowd sounds. It promises to be a lively and engaging show. With mock embarrassment she asks for retakes (anthemic, club etc.) to get the music just right for her performance. Or is it for her lifestyle? Indeed, is her life just one continuous, non-stop performance? She expounds on matters ranging from journalism to wrestling to ethical questions about what we should say and do – and how hard it is to be certain of why we are saying it … and so on. Maeve O’Mahony’s solo performance is full-on – energetic, charismatic and extraordinarily athletic.
For the next 45 minutes we are drawn into the young woman’s head, looking in on her frenetic, buzz-click-instant-hit-media-fed and media-challenged lifestyle. Her life is presented as a microcosm of the lives of an entire generation, especially people of her educational and social background. There are lots of interesting ideas in the writing; in fact there are too many. They choke each other and could benefit from some pruning. Devices such as recorded phone conversations and podcasts are too fast and indistinct to be taken on the volley by the audience. It is as if someone has pressed the fast-forward button and it is stuck. Multiple images flash on screens, adding to sensory overload. This is deliberate – the medium is the message – but doesn’t really work theatrically. The brain is bludgeoned, attention wanders. The show takes a few too many knowing bows to its own cleverness, at times replicating some of the foibles it seems set to satirise.
For all that, it is a show worth seeing, if only for the strength of the performance. Just be awake. Be very awake. It continues at Bewley’s Café Theatre until March 4th.
Photos by Carla Rogers