Friday, December 2, 2011

Pan Pan, ‘The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane’: Revisited

Black Box Theatre, Galway
Nov 30-Dec 1

I had forgotten how jam-packed The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane is before I went to see it for the second time last night in Galway. Despite having already written about the show (twice), I have some further comments below, especially in relation to how this production differs from the debut run last year.


  • Okay, so we have a few cast shake-ups: Garret Lombard and Olwen Fouéré are out, and Bush Moukarzel and Gina Moxley are in. Moukarzel proposed an interesting take on Hamlet with his gentle demeanour, and I would like to see how he would have handled the material (Madden got it again the night I went). I do think Lombard, with his difference in age and his distinguishable confidence, formed a more interesting side to the triangle though. Did anyone see Moukarzel in the role?

  • Always great to see Moxley onstage. How did I miss before the Gertrude-type character quoting Endgame (“I’ll go now to my kitchen, ten feet by ten feet by ten feet, and wait for him to whistle me. Nice dimensions, nice proportions, I’ll lean on the table, and look at the wall, and wait for him to whistle me”)? Its use suggests a vulnerable side of Gertrude that we rarely see: her dependent relationship to men. Moxley slightly cracks at that moment and it’s heart-breaking.

  • Speaking of the Beckett, did anyone else have a call-back to All That Fall’s Mrs. Rooney with the Endgame monologue: “One day you'll be blind, like me. You'll be sitting there, a speck in the void, in the dark, for ever, like me”. The blackout and searing soundscape after the monologue was also reminiscent of the storming end of All That Fall. Pan Pan do Beckett almost too frighteningly well.

  • I had a suspicion going in that I wanted to see Derek Devine get the role. His Reynaldo and Horatio scenes are beautiful in my books. When we were voting I asked him how many times he had gotten ‘Hamlet’ and he replied that he won twice. Anyone out there attend one of those two performances? Anyone able to comment on how he did?

  • You can really see Quinn, Piesse and company staring into the audience during the “postdramatic” silence. It’s such a weird, tense moment. It occurred to me during it that it would be amazing to see the audience from Quinn’s table.

  • I’m glad they didn’t waste the opportunity to incorporate Madden’s injury from the Second Age Hamlet tour last spring. For the record, that series of athletic leaps he described he would do if not injured in the audition: he actually did do in the debut run, and it was one of the reasons why I voted for him then. He’s a great physical actor, and I really hope the injury hasn’t affected him that badly.

  • Where’s Toby? I hear that his owner moved to England and the great Dane had to follow him. Buddy was a friendly replacement though. Not too keen on playing catch with Yorick’s skull.

  • Judith Roddy as Ophelia: still steals the show for me.

Finally: I was intrigued by the difference in audience reactions from both the Dublin and Galway shows. I heard quite a few negative reactions from spectators last night, some of whom found the piece inaccessible, self-indulgent, overly-academic, and not really dramatic. Therefore, I feel it appropriate to revisit The Rehearsal, and to question if its scholarship approach is really accessible to non-theatre historians and academics? I would be inclined to say “yes” but I’m interested in hearing what everybody else thinks.

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