This Beautiful Virtual Village – Abbey Theatre – Online Production
17 August – 17 September 2020
This Beautiful Virtual Village by Lisa Tierney-Keogh
A crime has been committed! It is an act of vandalism as a phrase was scrawled in spray paint across one of the walls in the area. The local resident’s committee has called a meeting to discuss it. As the city is in lockdown, the residents take to Zoom to voice their concerns. There are six different individuals on the committee, three men and three women, of different ages and attitudes. Some see it as a minor event that can be quickly painted over. Others want to find the perpetrator and educate him (or her) on the error of their ways! They meet to decide their next course of action and inadvertently it becomes a forum to discuss their lives and loves in lockdown!
This microcosm of Irish life was first performed on the Abbey stage in September of 2019 (you can read our review here). It was due to return to the stage this Summer but… life intervened, as the Abbey Theatre has been closed since March due to the pandemic. While this new version of the play has been largely reworked, featuring discussions on black lives matters, the lockdown and other more recent events, it still has the essence and structure of the original.
The cast is a definite highlight with the constantly good-humoured Man United supporter Philip (Steve Blount) along with Maggie (Pom Boyd), who seems to have got through lockdown with the help of a large quantity of red wine! She isn’t even sure if she’s in Stillorgan or not! Bethan Mary-James plays Grace, the front line worker of the group and the main individual to show that racism exists in Ireland, despite what some members of the group may say.
The decision to convert the play to an online happening is impressive and much work has gone into this creation. Basically, this is a TV production created by a theatre company and it shows how inventive theatre people can be! It is always difficult to rework a play for a new setting, and while many of the events of the stage play work well in the virtual realm, others feel a little contrived. There is still more than enough to keep you entertained in this unusual creation for our times. Nothing will ever replace the live spectacle of theatre, but this is an interesting and well constructed piece.
Philip: Steve Blount
Maggie: Pom Boyd
Liz: Amy Conroy
Dara: Michael Ford-FitzGerald
Paul: Luke Griffin
Grace: Bethan Mary-James
Writer: Lisa Tierney-Keogh
Director: David Horan
Set Design: Ciaran Bagnall
Costume Design: Katie Davenport
Lighting Design: Sarah Jane Shiels
Composer & Sound Design: Carl Kennedy
Voice Director: Andrea Ainsworth
Dramaturg: Louise Stephens
Casting (2020): Sarah Jones
Casting (2019): Amy Rowan