Real Magic – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review
by Forced Entertainment, UK
Venue – Project Arts Centre (Space Upstairs)
Dates – 8 & 9 Oct, 7.30pm
The three members of the cast emerge on stage in a variety of costumes. Jerry Killick is wearing a suit with a black curly wig. Claire Marshall is wearing a bright yellow chicken suit. The final member of the cast is Richard Lowdon, who is wearing a t-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts. They take their positions on the stage and the show starts.
‘We’ve never met before, have we?’ asks Jerry as the host of this twisted game show. ‘No’ replies the contestant, wondering what is about to happen. And so we are plunged into this world, not to emerge for 90 minutes.
The production takes the form of a simple repetitive scene that loops a number of times. There are small differences each time it is performed, like variations on a musical theme. Sometimes it is performed at a manic pace, all fire and fury. Other times they examine each detail and query every decision. The actors seem to be trapped, able to alter the particulars but not break out of the circle.
This play is produced by Forced Entertainment, who are no strangers to the Project Arts Centre, having brought The Coming Storm and Bloody Mess to the Dublin Theatre Festival previously. This production was created in 2016 and was recently part of the Edinburgh International Festival.
There is a moment when watching the performance where you realise that this is it. The loop will continue to happen and there’s nothing more to the production. We’re not going to get a beginning, middle and end, instead, we get variations on this simple theme. It’s how the audience reacts to it that which will determine whether you enjoy it or not. There are changes in costume, music and all manner of stylistic alterations, but still, the same basic premise plays out.
In the after-show discussion, the three members of the cast discussed what they were trying to achieve. One described the production as a ‘machine which creates anxiety’. The cast seem to realise that some audience members will ‘get on board the train’ whereas others will be left behind at the station. It is something of an endurance test and the audience will experience all types of emotions during the production. Whether that is enough will depend on the audience member.
Cast and Creative Team
Conceived and devised by the company
Directed by: Tim Etchells
Devised with and performed by: Jerry Killick, Richard Lowdon and Claire Marshall
Created with input from: Robin Arthur and Cathy Naden
Lighting Design: Jim Harrison
Design: Richard Lowdon
Sound Technicians: Greg Akehurst, Doug Currie
Project Assistant: Anna Krauss
Music Electronics & Sound Editing: John Avery
Loops: Tim Etchells ‘Grave’, from Telemann Fantasia Number 1 in B-Flat Major Aisha Orazbayeva