Thursday, June 30, 2011

NUIG Dramsoc, ‘The Hero Returns’: Miles To Go Before I Sleep

Bank of Ireland Theatre, Galway
Jun 27-Jul 1

My review of The Hero Returns coming up just as soon as I sell my shape ...

Raise your hand if you were/are a drama obsessive in college.

For many it seems to be the place where the passion is discovered; a thrilling environment where the impossible is rarely entertained, where social territory is an ever-changing state, and spirits are raised by the adrenaline-rush of the live stage or bruised by the reality of theses(*), exams, and just bad days, all of which are an aside to the fundamental commitment that brings college drama players together. Since leaving that world I’ve become more aware of theatre as an industry. In many ways I’m proud of its shape and in many ways I’m not, the latter of which is usually an issue I have with dedication. A lot of art is style over substance, expectations over unexpectations, money over human sentiment. The thing about college drama: it’s hardly ever about the money.   

(*) I for one made the drama society the subject of my Anthropology thesis. Two birds with one stone.  

Case in point: Meadhbh Haiceid’s The Hero Returns stages a reunion. One man is a man of opportunity, stealing it at its available intervals, endowing himself a questionably comfortable home with less questionable character. The other man is a man of sorrow, having travelled far, hungered far, all on the request of a sparrow’s song to find peace of heart and mind. Their history has not been entirely honest.

Set in the rural West, Haiceid demonstrates an ear for melody and address in her dialogue. She engages on an exploration of the creative faculties of colloquialism, the consequences of which are a humour and a poetry that is very clever and moving. Performers Oisin Robbins and Paul McCarrick take on the writing with fine timing and conviction. Absurdity is a fond outcome here, resulting in some moments where one is conflicted to emit laughter or sympathy, which again is a testament to the skills of those involved. Director Emmet Byrne allows Haiceid’s prose to line his stage thinly, making use of physical space to prevent it from building dense and recitalist, though on occasion the litanies can find themselves in circles trying to build on a suspense and emotion that has already been established.

College drama is about returning to the roots of the passion for me. The Hero Returns is a very appropriate reminder of what “professional” theatre can often overlook.

Honour to the craft.

What did everybody else think?  

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