MICHAEL ENDE’S classic fable Momo comes to the Town Hall studio next week in an imaginative new staging by Sorcas Quircas and directed by Pipa the Clown.
Momo, also known as The Grey Gentlemen or The Men in Grey, is a fantasy novel first published in 1973. Like Ende’s best-known work, The Neverending Story, it uses fantasy and symbolism to deal with real issues such as the nature and importance of time, the power of stories, friendship, compassion, and the value of the small but precious things that make life worth living.
The story revolves around Momo, a remarkable little girl who has the extraordinary ability to listen — really listen. By simply being with people and listening to them, she can help them find answers to their problems.
However, into Momo’s world arrive the sinister Men in Grey. They represent the Timesavings Bank and promote the idea of “timesaving” among the population, time which can be deposited to the bank and returned later with interest.
Gradually, the baleful influence of the Men in Grey affects the whole city: life becomes sterile, devoid of all things considered time-wasting - social activities, recreation, art, and imagination. The more time people save the less they have; the time they save is actually lost to them and it is consumed by the Men in Grey. It is up to Momo to counter their evil schemes and save the time of humanity.
“It has been my big wish to give this story to Galway for a long time,” says director Pipa. “After establishing the Galway Community Circus and the spectacle Sorcas Quircas it is now more than time to produce it. Now due to recession, cut backs, and NAMA this story has more relevance than ever.”
The Sorcas Quircas adaptation is entitled Momo’s Dream and is presented as a piece of ‘Black Light Theatre’. This form of theatre has become a speciality of Prague, where many theatres use it. Its distinctive characteristics are the use of black curtains, a darkened stage, and UV light, paired with fluorescent costumes in order to create intricate visual illusions.
Momo’s Dream features Aoife Bheilbigh as Momo, Mary McDonnell as her friend Gigi and Kathryn Reynolds as Beppo.
Performer Mary McDonnell hails from Tipperary and initially came to Galway to do an MA in public advocacy and activism at NUI, Galway. On completion of her degree she enrolled in Galway Youth Theatre and then saw Pipa’s ad for assistant puppeteers and landed the role in Momo’s Dream.
It was her first introduction to working in the area of Black Theatre and she has been relishing the experience.
“The style is very unusual, it’s very different to what we have worked with before,” she states. “It’s a very magical way of theatre because you can create really nice effects using it. I have to do a lot of dancing as Gigi which I’ve never done before but because you can’t see my face in the black light it gives me great freedom. I feel less self-conscious about doing that.
“It’s a feel-good show, it’s very funny and I think it’s one that will appeal to all ages, adults and children alike.”
Momo’s Dream runs at the Town Hall studio from Thursday February 3 to Saturday 5 at 7.30pm nightly. Tickets are €8 and are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie