A Different Animal; an absorbing play

A YOUNG woman receives the strangest of visitors with the blue light of dusk. A bottle of wine is opened. Awkwardness turns to passionate fluency. Dusk lingers, unnaturally. And in the growing intimacy, something darker also stirs.

Are they really who they say they are? Are they even who they think they are? And what, or who, will remain when dawn steals in?

This is the premise of A Different Animal, an absorbing new play written by Meadhbh Haicéid, and directed by Ciarda Bytyqi-Tobin which comes to the Town Hall studio next week in a staging by Wildebeest Theatre Company.

The play arrives here following a successful run at Limerick’s Unfringed Festival where its two performers, Marie Boylan and Crissie O’Donovan, were both nominated for the festival’s Best Actress award with the prize going to O’Donovan.

Author Meadhbh Haicéid is a native of Limerick and a graduate of NUI, Galway’s MA in drama and theatre studies. She was the winner of the Jerome Hynes Memorial Award 2008 for short play The Fourth Wall.

“I’m interested in old stories and how they can apply to the world today,” says Haicéid over an afternoon coffee. “I’ve had the notion of using the folk story about the changeling for a long time. I was thinking about it and its different versions all around the world and I read a lot of interesting stuff about it, so I wanted to do something with that in a modern setting. It’s become a play about the animal in all of us and the struggle of the individual in a modern society.”

The two women in the play are nameless, being referred to simply as Her and The Stranger. As the night progresses, the enigmatic Stranger challenges Her about her conformist lifestyle and exhorts her to reclaim a wildness and ‘otherness’ which she says is hiding within.

“The ideas the Stranger puts forward are quite extreme in a way,” Haicéid notes, “but I think it’s important for people to know about themselves and accept all parts of their character.”

The play is atmospheric and, at times very lyrical, and succeeds in creating a distinctive mood. “We wanted to find a border between reality and another world that is encroaching on that,” Haicéid declares of its presentation.

The success the play met with in Limerick attests to the skill and imagination with which Wildebeest have brought it to the stage. It runs at the Town Hall studio from Thursday February 10 to Saturday 12 at 8.30pm nightly.

Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie

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