A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Location – Project Arts Centre
Performances – 7 – 15 September
Photo: Patricio Cassinoni
The story revolves around a young couple, Pelayo and Elisenda, who have a sick child. They fear the worst for their baby and are doing everything in their power to cure him. That is when Pelayo notices something moving in their courtyard. As he gets close, he realises that is an old man lying face down in the mud. The man is trying to get up but it is proving almost impossible as he is impeded by a pair of quite enormous wings!
This play is based on a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which was first published in 1955 in Spanish and later translated into English in 1972 in the collection ‘Leaf Storm and Other Stories’. The story is a twisted fairy tale as the couple make use of the arrival of this unusual individual for their own financial gain!
The play is produced by Collapsing Horse Theatre Company, who are well used to producing work for children and this piece is aimed at people aged from 8 to 80 and is part of the Young Radicals section of the Fringe. The story is told by two cast members, with Genevieve Hulme-Beaman taking the role of narrator and Manus Halligan playing a variety of other characters but barely speaking a word. They use a variety of multimedia trickery to tell the story.
The stage has a table at its centre and a small bookcase on one side. The actors use a collection of tiny figures, with corks for bodies and wire arms and legs to act out the parts. Manus Halligan uses a small handheld camera to give the audience a view of this tiny world, with the results projected onto the back wall. The tiny set is quite beautiful with some inspired touches and ideas.
Hulme-Beaman delivers the story with a wide-eyed intensity, often shouting at the audience who are almost on top of her in the tiny space of the Project Cube. Halligan lurks behind her, only coming to the fore to act out what is being said or to work the limbs of the tiny figures. This is a playful piece that captures the madness of Garcia Marquez’s story. There are some wonderful ideas in the text and the two storytellers use all the tricks and devices at their disposal to bring it to life. It’s the type of theatre that will delight a younger audience.
YOUNG RADICALS: Fringe for Young Audiences.