Thursday, September 13, 2007

treading the boards

Never being the type to shy away from a bit of culture I found myself in Players Theatre in Trinity College last evening. Usually I’d be caught up in musical pursuits but the latent thespian in me needed to scratch the theatre itch I felt. I dropped in on ‘Gerry & The Peace Process’, Volta Productions offering in the Dublin Fringe Festival.

It was a bit of a hoot if the truth be told. It was a tongue in cheek view of the last thirty years in Northern Ireland as seen through the glasses of Gerry Adams. Adams is adeptly played by one of the show’s writers, Liam Hourican. He’s done a good job of nailing the West Belfast accent and his singing and dancing is not bad either. Sean Duggan who plays the character of Martin McGuinness lends able support but somehow manages to look like Mrs Doubtfire when he puts his cardigan on. Jim Roche, playing a number of characters (David Trimble, John Hume, Aengus O'Snodaigh etc) manages to steal most of the limelight with a brilliant vaudeville performance. The remaining limelight must go to the musicians who not only display versatility in their delivery of many musical styles but also lend their services to matters centre stage when needed. Bravo chaps.

The show reminded me a little of ‘Candide’ by The Performance Corporation, which debuted in the Fringe Festival in 2002. This was the first piece of work by Jo Mangan & Tom Swift (the former Today FM newsreader) and it was a double award winner in both the Irish Times Theatre Awards and the Dublin Fringe Festival 2002. With ‘Candide’, Swift & Mangan managed to interweave pre-recorded sound and vision into live production. It turned out very well and I suppose that’s why it won all those awards.

Gerry & The Peace Process nods in that direction and it comes as no surprise to learn that Hourican had starred in The Performance Corporation production of Seven Deadly Sins a few years ago. Volta have also attempted to marry technology with the live aspect and to some degree it works but for the most part it served only to distract both the audience and the cast. On a number of occasions the syncing was out when there was interplay between the live actor and the recorded footage. The 'MTV Cribs' parody was inspired but it would be more suited to the medium of television instead of being shown on a projector screen in Players Theatre. In a nutshell, lose the video, keep the songs.

All said and done I reckon it was very funny and I was creased over laughing on a number of occasions. I’ve told everyone to go to see it and now I’m telling you. Don’t listen to the shite I talk. Go and see it for yourself. Be quick though, its finished on Sunday evening.

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