Recovery – live staging of a concept album at Mick Lally Theatre

On Tuesday November 13, at 8pm, at the Mick Lally Theatre, One Two One Two present their award-winning fusion of pop music and theatre, Recovery, starring Peter Coonan from Love/Hate.

One Two One Two is the theatre and music company founded by sisters Maud Lee and Zoe Ní Riordáin of acclaimed alternative pop ensemble Maud in Cahoots. Recovery is a live staging of a concept album combining 12 original pop songs with contemporary choreography to paint a tender portrait of a fractured modern family. Winner of the Romilly Walton-Masters Performance Award for experimental theatre, Recovery invites us to reflect on our own experience of family and the many forms that recovery takes.

Ahead of Recovery’s Galway visit, writer/director Zoe Ní Riordáin spoke with me about the work, beginning with why she and Maud were prompted to bring their music into a theatrical setting; “We started Maud in Cahoots in 2009, but I had trained as a theatre director and was working in theatre alongside that. I was interested in combining the two things and Maud was also keen to perform in a different way. Our first theatre show was The Well Rested Terrorist. I had written it as an album for the band, I felt it could work as a stage show so we started rehearsing it with that in mind and got actors involved. We staged it at the 2014 Fringe Festival and Maud found it really invigorating to perform in a space where the audience absorbed the songs in a different way than in a gig setting, so that is how it all started. Since then we have continued to explore that idea of taking pop songs into a theatrical context and becoming more experimental with the staging of them.”

Ní Riordáin reflects on how working in a theatrical setting affects her own sense of the songs; “It puts them under a microscope. The interesting thing about making the shows is applying dramaturgical scrutiny to lyrics that are written intuitively. When I am writing a song, I often just sit down with my guitar and an idea and the song comes out and the first draft is often the song. So to go back to that and interrogate it and see how we can find imagery and movement that is connected to the songs has changed the way that I think about it, adding so many layers to what are essentially three-minute pop songs. The show is meant as a celebration of the form of the album as well; since the advent of iTunes it is rarer for people to listen to an album all the way through and think of it as a complete artform.”

One Two One Two was founded in August to present Zoe and Maud’s most recent show, Everything I Do. “Myself and Maud see it as a continuation of the band rather than a separate project,” Zoe explains. “It is a home for all of the music and theatre work that we do. We found that Maud in Cahoots was not a good descriptor for the work that we were doing because we were branching off and doing these musical theatre projects. We wanted to have this new name that was broad enough where we could do all these projects under the same roof. With our last show, Everything I Do, we recorded that and it will probably be released as an album early next year.”

And so to Recovery; which features four performers; Maud Lee, Peter Coonan, Aoife Spratt and Stephen Quinn. “I was investigating childhood and the effects of issues like addiction and dysfunction,” Zoe reveals. “It is like a family photo album; the songs are all scenes from various aspects of the family dynamic –one song might be from the mother’s perspective, another from the son’s, and so on. The imagery is very simple, a kitchen table and four chairs, and there is a trampoline but that is an abstract part of it. I wanted to find a way to express my own feelings about these memories in a way that allowed an audience to project their own emotions on it, so there is a lot of space there for people to reflect on their own idea of what family is. One of the ideas I explore is that in situations of dysfunction the child becomes the parent or the parent becomes a child, you can have that juxtaposition. Bruce Springsteen was a big influence on the writing of it as well and his form features in the show . We are looking forward to doing it in the Mick Lally Theatre because it is an intimate show and that is a great space for it.”

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