CHRISTIAN O’REILLY’S Chapatti, jointly produced by Northlight Theatre Company and GIAF, is a real crowd-pleaser of a play.
A tale of budding autumnal romance between lonely Dubliners Dan and Betty, it is brimful of warmth, humour, and moments of tenderness that would soften the flintiest of hearts.
Dan, inconsolable after the death of his true love, and with only his dog Chapatti for company, feels he has nothing left to live for. Then his path crosses that of Betty, owner of numerous cats and a never-say-die attitude. Told mostly through alternating monologues, the play follows Betty’s quest to coax Dan out of his heart-sick despair.
Their journey held the Town Hall Theatre audience rapt from first to last, especially during the climactic dinner date when Betty trades her dowdy day clothes for a curve-revealing red dress, a transformation that inspired whoops of delight and appreciation from the auditorium.
O’Reilly is richly served by the production; Jack Magaw’s design combines domestic interior with arched park railings and, under BJ Jone’s sure-handed direction, John Mahoney and Penny Slusher turn in captivating, delightful performances.
BLUE TEAPOT Theatre Company enjoyed one of the hits of last year’s festival in Sanctuary, penned by Christian O’Reilly, and the company came up trumps again this year with iD - devised by members of the troupe with director Scott Williams.
The play opens with the actors processing onstage to Paul Connolly’s guitar accompaniment, holding childhood portraits of themselves in front of their faces. Over the course of the next hour the play explores, and celebrates, the actors’ own personal identities, stories, and abilities.
Over a series of episodic vignettes, some solo, others with the entire group or two or three members, the nine Teapot performers - using their own names - candidly reveal their individual memories, feelings, and aspirations, with each taking a turn in the spotlight to showcase their own performing accomplishments. iD is an illuminating, affecting, and, not least, very entertaining. The entire Teapot ensemble carry it off with no little élan. Special kudos to Kieran Coppinger and Michael Hayes.
MOONFISH THEATRE Company has been building a burgeoning reputation for itself over the past few years. The company’s superb adaptation of Joseph O’Connor’s novel Star Of The Sea, jointly produced with An Taibhdhearc, will surely enhance that even further.
The production brilliantly deploys a range of elements; imaginative use of clever visual effects, sound and music, while the six performers take multiple roles in bringing O’Connor’s multi-layered Famine-era novel to the stage.
The bi-lingual nature of the production adds a potent extra dimension to O’Connor’s story. Whereas the novel is in English, having the play partially in Irish allows Moonfish to powerfully illustrate the catastrophic effect the Famine had on Gaeilge. Hats off to designer Lian Bell and actors Ionia Ní Chroinin, Morgan Cooke, Grace Kiely, Zita Monahan, Simon Boyle, and Mairead Ní Chroinin.
MIDSUMMER - A Play with Songs, by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre, gets a terrific production from Galway Youth Theatre and Galway Community Theatre, at Nun’s Island Theatre.
Partly based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the play charts the unlikely amorous coming together of petty thief Bob and high-flying lawyer Helena over a madcap, booze-soaked Edinburgh weekend.
Both of them are in their mid-thirties and feeling the ache of disillusion with their lives yet, against all odds, they somehow kindle the embers of hope in each other to find a shot at redemption.
First done as a two-hander, Andrew Flynn transforms the play into a large-cast production with his skilfully deployed chorus framing and enhancing the interactions of Bob and Helena (brilliantly played by Jarlath Tivnan and Eilish McCarthy ). The action is fluently choreographed throughout and McIntyre’s songs – with wonderful live musical accompaniment from The Screaming Bats -further enriches proceedings. An utter delight of a show.