The First Bad Man – Dublin Theatre Festival

The First Bad Man – Dublin Theatre Festival
Venue – Wesley House – Date(s) – 6–10 Oct, 13–17 Oct, 8pm

The venue for this production is Wesley House, in Leeson Park, Ranelagh. It’s a Hall beside the Methodist Centenary Church which can be hired for meetings of local groups. I arrived a little early at the venue last night and sat on a bench outside. A car pulled up beside me and an old woman got out. As she walked past, she looked at me optimistically and asked was I here for choir practice. I guess she was hoping for an injection of new blood into the group. I smiled and told her I was here for a theatre production, which she looked a little bemused by. What I should have said was that I was here for an experimental, immersive play by Pan Pan theatre company which explores the novel The First Bad Man written by Miranda July. I’m sure that would have cleared things up!

When you purchase the ticket for the production, you’ll receive an email from a member of the Pan Pan team asking for your address. They’ll then post the novel to you, which will hopefully give you enough time to read the book before you see the production. While a knowledge of the book will help with the experience, it is not essential.

This is Pan Pan’s second production based on the novel, their first being a strictly online affair at the end of July this year. This production has a couple of new cast members, with Andrew Bennett and  Judith Roddy performing alongside the returning characters of Luka Costello and Grace Morgan. The play is based around a book club, where a group of strangers meet to discuss the novel. The hall was perfect for the occasion, with its high vaulted ceiling and austere windows. As you enter the space, the chairs are dotted around the venue with the four cast members already seated inside. There is no audience participation in the event, so you’re safe to sit and watch the experience without having to interact with the characters. Another unusual aspect of the production is that each night of the five-night run is different, so you can actually see five different plays over the run of the production.

The book is based around the life of Cheryl Glickman, a woman in her 40s who works for a nonprofit women’s self-defence studio. The other characters include a board member of her organisation called Philip and Clee, a 19-year-old girl who somehow comes to live with Cheryl. The production allows the audience to see the dynamics of the book group, with members talking over each other and fighting for dominance. Expect discussions on snacks, songs and other assorted oddness along with the intricacies of the novel itself. There is also another layer, where the book club members act out scenes from the novel.  It’s a swirling, layered production that will leave your head spinning… in a good way!

Based on THE FIRST BAD MAN – A novel by Miranda July

Cast & Creative Team
Created by Mish Grigor and Gavin Quinn with Luka Costello, Sonya Kelly, Dylan Tighe, Grace Morgan, Simon Kenny, Katherine O’Malley and Aedín Cosgrove.
Directed by Gavin Quinn
Designer: Aedín Cosgrove
Cast: Andrew Bennett, Luka Costello, Judith Roddy & Grace Morgan
Music: Simon Kenny
Movement Director: Katherine O’Malley
Assistant Director: Grace Morgan
Video & Photography: Ros Kavanagh
Produced by Gwen Van Spijk

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