Billy – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review

Billy – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review

Dates Sep 18-22 @ 21:00 – Tickets €14 / €12 conc.
Other performance Sep 22 @ 14:30
Duration 50 mins
Venue: Smock Alley Theatre Boys’ School

The Billy in question here is not a boy but a bookcase. The Billy is one of the top-selling items in Ikea of all time. It has sold over 60 million units worldwide and continues to be one of their top sellers. It is functional, bland and ubiquitous and here it is used as an analogy for modern life.

As we enter the theatre the two actors are already on stage. Áine Ní Laoghaire and Vasiliki Stasinakiare are trying to assemble a Billy bookcase while the audience watches, and doing rather a good job of it. Once they finish it, they stand the item against the back wall of the set, and then tell us where the fire exits are and to turn off our mobile phones!

The piece is a series of linked ideas or sketches that flow from one to the next without interruption. We hear infomercials and sales pitches, discussions and debate on many aspects of our modern lives, but mostly on the stuff we own. The houses we buy or rent and the things we fill them with. The one clear question throughout it is why do we need so much stuff? Why do we buy thousands of items that we’ll never look at or use?

The production is presented with a manic glee, wide-eyed grins and an eerie intensity. At times the two actors talk directly to the audience. We are offered crisps in one section and those that are not eaten are flung backstage! At another time, Vas is so delighted with the imaginary Shela from Swindon that she dances and sings her name for several minutes. They discuss timeshare houses while performing complex yoga stances. While there is much ambiguity to the work, the main idea behind it seems to be that we focus on the wrong things in our lives. We spend our time worrying about what TV to buy when we should be thinking of the bigger issues. The political situation in Northern Ireland is focused on. Why are the politicians still being paid despite not turning up for work? What will Brexit bring and how will it affect the daily lives of the inhabitants of Northern Ireland? The sheer energy and power of the two performers is what brings the whole production to life. It is definitely one of the stranger performances in the fringe and is none the worse for it!

Cast – Áine Ní Laoghaire and Vasiliki Stasinaki

A Sarah Gordon & Alice Malseed Production

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