Freehouse – Pan Pan Theatre
Photos by Ros Kavanagh
A happening all day – Come and go as you please
7 – 21 May 2022 · Samuel Beckett Theatre · 15:00 – 21:00 daily – Admission €5
The True Story of Peter Pan Pan
Never one to shy away from the unusual, Pan Pan Theatre have created something a little bit strange. The early details were sketchy, to say the least, but with talk of “live music, film, death masks, kitchen sinks, nerf guns, diaries and more.” I was expecting to see a collection of actors on stage for something approaching a thinking man’s or woman’s Love Island? The reality was of course quite different.
Before you enter the theatre, you are given a map to guide you through the experience! The space is not used as a conventional theatre and there is no seating or stage. While some of the actors are inside the space, it is not a conventional performance. Instead, it feels closer to a museum space with various exhibits on display. The main space is broken in two by some impressive full-height curtains. Inside each of these spaces, there are a number of exhibits and live performances. Off to the side, in what would normally be the backstage area, a video piece plays on loop. This film forms the centrepiece of the work.
The video lasts slightly over an hour and shows the actors ‘on retreat’ together in a large house. It feels unscripted and is shot in a documentary style. The actors talk about their lives and experiences. One talks of her time living in squats and dabbling with drug-taking. Another talks about the meaning of life, and the purpose of our existence. They talk about their formative years in school and the various priests they encountered. All of this takes place alongside gardening tips, drinking games, nerf and Spin the Bottle. All of these elements are reflected outside in the ‘exhibition space’, where the viewer can partake in these hands-on exhibits.
The live performance element involves Si Schroeder playing the guitar with an assortment of pedals and effects. There are also elements which are closer to performance art, with actors moving through the space, alongside the other smaller exhibits. Each of the actors has completed a handwritten diary, which you can read or listen to on headphones, with the text read by the actors themselves. In case you were wondering, there is a small tower of cans which you can knock over with a Nerf gun!
Something that is rarely mentioned in reviews is the price of the ticket, but it is relevant. If you’re going to splash out €40+ to see something on one of the main stages in Dublin, you do require a certain standard to be maintained. Admission to this piece costs just €5 and you can stay as long as you like, so there is very little risk involved in recommending it.
Pan Pan has created a tiny world for the viewer to explore. It is a production you could easily visit more than once, to watch and listen to the various pieces over time. There is an impressive sense of style and attention to detail, all served with a wry grin. Make of it what you will but it is probably the most unconventional production you’ll see in Ireland this year.
“FREEHOUSE is a happening featuring live music, film, death masks, kitchen sinks, nerf guns, diaries and more.”
Created by: Andrew Bennett, Aedín Cosgrove, Leon Henry, Clare Howe, Faith Jones, Gareth Jones, Ros Kavanagh, Signe Lury, Anthony Morris, Gina Moxley, Gavin Quinn, Mary Sheehan, Anna Sheils, Simon Shroeder.
Production Manager: Rob Usher
Crew: Adrian Leake, Vincent Doherty, Joseph Collins, Richard Lambert, Brendan Cummins, Adrian Moylan
Face Casts: Andrew Clancy, Eugenia Genunchi