Mespil In The Dark Live – Samuel Beckett Theatre

Mespil In The Dark Live – Samuel Beckett Theatre
5 – 10 September 2022 – 7:30 PM – Samuel Beckett Theatre

Photos by Ros Kavanagh

After the excesses of their recent production Freehouse, Pan Pan returns to something approaching traditional theatre with Mespil in the Dark Live. The original Mespil in the Dark was a series of short films made during the pandemic and released in June 2021, when live theatre was not an option. The surprising thing about the short films was how adept this theatre company was at making them, showing they could easily make the transition into filmmaking. What is clear, however, is that Pan Pan enjoys the freedom theatre gives an artist. This production seeks to ask the question “what can theatre do that film can’t?” The answer seems to be this offbeat production that plays with the audience throughout.

The piece starts with a hip-hop song! The theatre fills with dry ice and Ahmed Karim Tamu raps for the audience, complete with a wall clock hanging around his neck, à la Flava Flav. When the smoke dies down, the story begins in earnest. Robert O’Mahony has invited a number of actors who live in the Mespil apartments to a rehearsal space. They arrive one at a time and hand their invitation to Robert. This includes Andrew Bennett dressed surprisingly in a two-piece fitted suit, with a pencil skirt and heels. The other characters, Pauline Hutton and Ahmed Karim Tamu wear more traditional attire. The story revolves around a play within a play, as Robert O’Mahony has cast them for his tale of a travelling family of actors. Along the way, there are many asides, reminiscences of their careers as actors, a raffle and even a frenetic dance piece.

The production is presented in the round, with simple seating on three sides. The stage is a raised platform at the centre of the space. Above the stage, a collection of different coloured light bulbs hang. There is one chair and a table with various odds and ends at the back of the stage, but it is a relatively barren space for this unusual work.

There is a feeling that truth blends gently with what happens on stage. While the actors are playing characters, some of the stories of their early years in theatre have a ring of truth to them. They play actors’ games, testing their wits against the other thespians. Towards the end of the production, there is a dance piece out of the blue! The two dancers, Mollyanna Ennis and Alex Vostokova carry out a fast-paced and intense series of movements that come as a complete surprise. Another unusual instance is a raffle, the audience members clutch the tickets they received on the way into the venue to win a small but suitable prize.

This is another free-wheeling piece from Pan Pan, exploring the various characters and the nature of theatre. It is a return to what they do best, with a piece that is awash with idiosyncratic notions and eccentric ideas. Before the Dublin Fringe Festival begins in earnest, this is more than deserving of your time.

Created by Andrew Bennett, Matt Burke, Aedín Cosgrove, Jimmy Eadie, Pauline Hutton, Grace Morgan, Eugene O’Brien, Robert O’Mahoney, Gavin Quinn, Mary Sheehan, Ahmed Karim Tamu

Featuring UNTETHERED by SOTO Dance Company, performed by Mollyanna Ennis and Alex Vostokova. Choreographed by Simone O’Toole

Production Team
Production Manager Rob Usher
Stage Manager Clare Howe
Assistant Stage Manager Lara Coady & Jess Fitzsimons Kane
Sound Assistant Leon Henry
Producer Emma Coen

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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