In MiddleTown – Gate Theatre Touring – Review
Touring nationwide on the Gate Truck from July 22nd.
Booking links: DÚN LAOGHAIRE • GALWAY • ENNIS • LIMERICK • PORTLAOISE • LONGFORD • LETTERKENNY • SLIGO
A Circus has arrived in town…. of sorts. This is a new production by the Gate Theatre that is touring around Ireland in July and August. It’s a one-man show with Mikel Murfi the star of the production and also taking the writing credits. The stage for this production is actually the back of a ‘curtain sider’ truck with the side of the trailer pulled back to reveal the set! It’s an interesting idea that will give audiences a safe opportunity to see live theatre this summer.
While the play is nominally visiting some of the most famous theatres around the country, it is an outdoors production. The play in Dun Laoghaire is listed as the Pavillion theatre but it is actually several hundred metres down the road in the former Stena HSS Vehicle Compound at St. Michaels Pier. The seats for the show are sold in twos with each pair of seats a safe distance away from the others to comply with current government guidelines!
For those that have seen Mikel Murfi’s other one-man shows including the much loved The Man in the Woman’s Shoes, you’ll be on safe ground here. It is his usual blend of physical humour, mime and imagination to fill out the world of the play. The main difference between this and the other work is the subject matter is more introspective in nature. The set is also filled with a variety of items for him to play with during the performance. The sound design is also important to the piece, with Murfi interacting with a backing track including music and narration.
The play focuses on one character who worked as a removal man for many years. One day, he decides to pack his belongings and leave his house for good, never to return. He only takes the possessions he needs as he travels to new destinations around the country to live a quiet and contemplative life.
While there is still the physical humour and gags that you would expect from Murfi, there is also another side to the work. It’s a play about life and what one man expects to get out of it. It’s quite philosophical in nature, adding a degree of pathos that was absent in his previous work. Having said that, we still have time for a trained choir of chickens to perform In The Mood! Murfi is a unique talent in Irish theatre and this new work uses his inherent humour to explore a wistful and meditative topic.
In MiddleTown Company
Written and performed by Mikel Murfi
Set and Costume Designer: Sabine Dargent
Sound Designer: Sandra O’Mahony
Lighting Designer: Sinéad Wallace
Stage Manager: Eavan Gribbin
Assistant Stage Manager: Mark Jackson
Chief Lighting Technician and Programmer: Matt Burke
Set Construction: Theatre Production Services
Scenic Artist: Sandra Butler
Model Maker: Caroline Menassol