The Shitstorm – Peacock @ The Abbey – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review by Frank L.
Dates Sep 09 / 11 – 16 @ 21:00
Tickets €16/ €14 conc.
Duration 90 mins
Venue: Abbey Theatre on the Peacock Stage
Photo: Cait Fahey
In the programme there is a list of Questions and Answers between Simon Doyle and the director, Maeve Stone, which are revealing. Stone states that the play is not explicit as to where it is set but for her it is on the Blasket Islands off the coast of Kerry. She further states that it is not set in a particular time but there’s a flavour of the 80s and 90s in the imagery. That period is evoked by the baby grand piano and its accompanying stool which are a magnificent matt shade of pink as if they had emerged from an image created by Michael Craig Martin. In stark contrast to the zany piano there is a large number of oddly assorted old books scattered around the stage. There is an uneasy tension between the two.
The set itself is a cave like structure. It gives the impression that it is a haven from the elements outside. The set and lighting design is by Zia Bergin-Holly and the colouring of the entire mutates throughout like as if it was a digital creation capable of infinite variety. The irregularly shaped apertures through which varied coloured lights shine add to the visual diversity.
Given that Hurricane Irma on Saturday night was about to hit Florida, having laid waste a host of Caribbean islands, the fact that part of the inspiration for the play comes from The Tempest by Shakespeare gave the performance an unexpected topicality. The Tempest characters of Miranda (Fionnuala Gygax), Ariel (Pom Boyd), Caliban (Ian Toner) and Prospero (Bryan Quinn) comprise the cast. Initially Miranda is alone on stage at the piano and she picks out a classical piece of music until she becomes angered by it and plays a series of notes with frustration to bring it to an end.
Throughout there is off-stage sound with the score and sound-scape written by Paul Maguire. The performance ultimately culminates with a rock concert, with songs by Morgan Buckley and Frank Sweeney. The songs are appropriately named earth, fire, wind and air. Miranda is the lead singer, with her fabulous mane of hair adding to her performance, with the other three actors being the band, comprising of guitar, bass, keyboard and drum machine. They are a talented and versatile cast.
By the end, it is not obvious what has been experienced, but there is a strong sense of having been immersed in a journey. Each member of the audience has probably had a different experience. But whatever the variety of the experience, there was a unanimity in the joy of the applause at the end. It is a voyage into the unknown, relax and let it happen.
The Shitstorm Written by Simon Doyle & Directed by Maeve Stone