Christmas Craicers – Bohemian Theatre – Review
by P McGovern
Bohemian Theatre in Phibsborough December 3 – 7 at 7:30 PM
Christmas Craicers – Six Short Festive Plays at the Bohemian Theatre, Phibsborough
The Bohemian Theatre (above McGeough’s Bar in the heart of Phibsboro), is a relatively new addition to Dublin theatre venues and a most welcome one. At a time when public funding for any branch or level of the arts is embarrassingly inadequate for a developed country, it is encouraging to see that creative people such as The Corps Ensemble will somehow cobble together the resources, the energy and the ambition to develop such a venue.
The six plays that make up the current show are set in the days around Christmas and so inevitably Christmases, present, past and future play a significant part. Some characters and plots overlap and interlock and some actors double as directors and vice versa.
Skate Away On, by Hillary Dziminski, presents two interesting characters trapped in each other’s company due to the repeated postponement of their flight to Paris where both claim to have important things to do, involving new beginnings in work and life. On December 23rd? Really? While the actors (Jemma Nic Lochlainn and Neill Fleming) give the production their all, the piece itself is a bit thin and needs to be fleshed out to hold much interest.
Robert Higgins’s Once around the Block is set in a New York pub and features Jed Murray and Ml Bates as two Irishmen who haven’t exactly lived the American Dream. The dialogue is realistic, the acting (with Mary Murray completing the line-up) is strong and Andy Crook’s direction is finely paced.
One of the finest performances of the night Andy Crook as a kind of automaton/AI entity, programmed to interact verbally with humans but without the capacity to diverge from what is programmed for him to execute. This is an imaginative play (by Adam O’Keeffe), one that might well be expanded into a more substantial piece.
Matthew Ralli directs Stewart Roche’s A Christmas Visit, featuring Lesley Conroy, Neill Fleming and Jemima Nic Lochlainn. Just as we are caught up in what is happening (or rather, what we think is happening) and feel we know where everything is leading, the play takes a dramatic turn that catches us off guard. It is a clever, well worked piece.
How could you have six plays and no part for social media? Not easily in today’s world. Lisa Walsh’s The Tingle takes us into the world of Tinder dating, with two well-matched actors (Deborah Wiseman and Ml Bates) seeking a well matched mate online. Photographs and personal details are always accurate and honest, aren’t they? Apparently not, but hey, in the end things may turn out OK. After all, this is Christmas. Dziminski directs while Jed Murray appears, equally convincing as a barman who knows the score.
The final play is Gary Duggan’s A Christmas Matter, directed by Murray. It is a particularly convincing piece of acting by Mary Murray and Edwin Mullane as a couple in a hospital waiting room while an irritating drunk rouses himself occasionally to mumble a few lines of a Christmas song or carol, in a way that doesn’t seem at all implausible in a hospital waiting area at Christmas – or any other time. Aoife Honohan completes the line-up.
Props and sets are rightly minimal and directors and cast rise to the challenge presented by the limitations of the playing space, adapting with imagination and innovation. The plays continue nightly at 7. 30 and offer a diverting evening in a friendly, convivial atmosphere, well worth supporting as the programme continues its run.
Produced by Hillary Dziminski
Sound Design by Jack Cawley
Production Photos by Kristof Moscicki