Bewley’s Café Theatre
Image: Futoshi Sakauchi
A Christmas show in Bewley’s is always a treat, even without the pre-show mince pie and coffee I enjoyed beside the fire yesterday. Adapted by Michael James Ford and directed by Bairbre Ni Chaoimh, this year’s Christmas production of Dinner in Mulberry Street tells the story of a young couple, Agnes and Dick Burdoon, who have fallen on hard times and find themselves living on Mulberry Street with a dying fire, hungry bellies, and little else. However, when Dick sells one of their last possessions, they are greeted with a stroke of luck that changes the course of their story.
Ford’s play is based on Fitz-James O’Brien’s 1881 short story Duke Humphrey’s Dinner, and is quite a faithful adaptation; one character is changed, but the overall shape of the story remains the same. Though it is a charming and entertaining story both on the page and the stage, the adaptation may have been wise to stray a little further from the shape of the short story. The lack of action or plot development in the early portions of the short story, and the sudden resolution of events in the final few pages mean that the pacing of the plot is uneven for the stage.
However, the issues of plot and pacing fade as Ashleigh Dorrell and Jamie O’Neill revel in the language of the earlier parts of the play under Ni Chaoimh’s strong direction – though there is little action per se, they bring energy and character to every word as they lament their situation and describe the sumptuous meals they wish they were eating. This is accentuated by Nicola Burke’s costume design which captures perfectly the fall from splendour Dick and Agnes have experienced.
From a seduction via cheese-board to fisticuffs between Fabiano Roggio’s effusive and eccentric Giacomo and O’Neill’s Dick Burdoon, Dinner in Mulberry Street is a play that never takes itself too seriously, and in doing so provides a fun, diverting Christmas show which (despite the Burdoon’s lack of coal), promises warmth and laughter throughout.
Dinner In Mulberry Street runs at Bewley’s Café Theatre until December 22nd.
Bewleys Café Theatre
Image credit: Tom Maher
Elsa, a film blogger played by Maeve Fitzgerald, turns up at a remote house to interview horror actor, Jonathan Ravencliffe (Michael James Ford). As she is greeted at the door by Mrs. Newman, a seemingly Mrs. Danvers-esque housekeeper played by Joan Sheehy, and steps into Naomi Faughan’s classically spooky set, it seems as though Elsa is about to encounter her own real-life gothic horror plot. However, all is not as it seems. Secrets of the past are brought to light and we soon realise the real horror doesn’t lie in the werewolves and vampires of Ravencliffe’s films.
Though the pacing sometimes slows and jolts a little, Roche’s script is an engrossing story that makes clever use of the Hammer Horror movie genre as a frame. Under the direction of Aoife Spillane-Hinks the three characters are skillfully brought to life by Ford, Fitzgerald and Sheehy. Though allusions to the horror genre and tropes drawn from it are woven throughout the script, the characters and plot never rely on them; the characters resist being caricatures or stereotypes, and the story takes twists and turns into unexpected territory.
Wringer is a well-crafted, fresh and unsettling play. For a lunchtime Halloween horror fix, you won’t go wrong with a ticket to this.
Wringer runs at Bewley’s Café Theatre until 4th November.
Bewley’s Cafe Theatre
Tiger Dublin Fringe
Originally published on The Public Reviews
Rebel Rebel (part of this year’s Show in a Bag series) is an engaging and interesting snapshot of the 1916 Rising through the eyes of two of its participants, Helena Molony (Aisling O’Mara) and Sean Connolly (Robbie O’Connor). With nothing but a table and chair in the centre of the room, O’Meara and O’Connor bring their characters’ experiences of the rising to the audience with a vitality and volatility that successfully captures the wider social climate of the time. The combination of the changes in tone, the fear they obviously feel, and the more mundane problems they face because of the rising; all combine to create a complex web of personal and national history.
Rebel Rebel is bookended by the a performance of W.B. Yeats’ seminal play Cathleen Ní Houlihan which the characters abandon to march to Dublin Castle. This worked well, providing a structure to what is a very volatile, rapidly shifting play. However, the voice-over of lines from Cathleen Ní Houlihan detracted somewhat from the live performances as it competed with the central action of the performance, while not being easily understood itself either. The idea was a promising one; should the execution be polished it would be a very effective enhancement to the performance.
Rebel Rebel captures the idealism, and the violent and gritty reality, behind the rising, as, through Lowe’s direction, it presents snippets of the experiences of Molony and Connolly. This show is no light piece of lunchtime theatre; this show is a fast but penetrating flight through the Rising. With its gilt edges of idealism brought forward by the characters, and the threads of violence, loss and pain woven through their individual stories (and those of the Rising in general) Rebel Rebel is a compact but forceful picture of the 1916 Rising