Bewley’s Cafe Theatre at Powerscourt Centre
Dublin Fringe Festival
It is a truth universally acknowledged that weddings are often dramatic affairs, but what wedding could be dramatic enough to happen night after night at Dublin Fringe Festival?
What’s that I hear you say?
Yes, that’s right; it’s the wedding of Xnthony and Tiffany.
Following his repeated Eurovision rejections, pop-star Xnthony has decided to rebrand and create a new image for himself as a man “like Dónal Skehan,” by getting married to co-collaborator Tiffany Murphy. The ensuing wedding is an intense, yet comedic and entertaining, exploration of fame, desperation, misogyny and power. From the very opening of the wedding there is an evident tension between the two characters, with each vying for attention and Xnthony repeatedly sidelining the bride. As this tension develops we see the reasons behind the wedding revealing themselves, and a desperation for fame and recognition that becomes more and more destructive.
From simple suggestions, such as the timings of the vows, with Tiffany never getting to finish her sentence, to the more explicit grappling on the dance floor, The Power of Wow produces a layered exploration of misogyny and the expectations of marriage. Tiffany gradually begins rebelling against the rules she is supposed to follow and reveals that she is also marrying Xnthony for the purpose of boosting her fame as a “celebrity wife.” Murphy’s interludes in which she increasingly breaks down her initial speech that reminds us that there are certain sacrifices women are expected to make if they want to marry, certain rules to be followed, reflect the dilemma of marriage that women have been faced with for centuries. If they marry, certain social benefits accompany that, but at what cost? This then leads both characters to reflect on their own decisions in trying to become famous, and the costs of those choices. From belly-laughing beginning to thought-provoking end, through comic songs, wild dances, a sharp script, a few shots of Mickey Finns, and a lot of bananas, X & Co. bring a challenging, at times hilarious, and consistently absorbing piece of work to the stage.
By interrogating the characters and their motives so thoroughly on stage, as well as making the audience complicit in the misogynistic behaviour in the production (while still maintaining a high-energy comic and musical show) X & Co. present a strong piece of theatre that leaves its audience unsure of whether they should laugh and clap. Exposing and delving into some of the recurrent forms of misogyny in society, and in marriage in particular, The Power of Wow delivers a punchy message and forces the audience to question their own position while never appearing didactic; this was a show with a message, and not (the currently all too common) message with a show.
This production is an engaging and challenging progression of the characters of Xnthony and Tiffany (who previously appeared in Douze) that involves the audience in both light-hearted and provocative, searching ways. The Power of Wow is a brave (and at times bizarre) work of art that is not afraid to push boundaries and does so with confidence, conviction, and bananas.
The Power of Wow runs at Dublin Fringe Festival until 23rd August.