Sunday, January 29, 2012

ABSOLUT Fringe and Project Arts Centre give us Turn Around

THEATREclub’s sonorous and rompous The Family finished its run this weekend at Project Arts Centre, thus leaving a void in our lives as we await that rare contemporary theatre piece unbound by convention until our Fringe overdose in September.

Thankfully, both the Fringe and Project will be making the wait easier as they announced last week their Turn Around season. In April we will be reunited with five Fringe shows from the past. The release states fringes, so it’s possible we’ll see productions not just from last year but the 2010 and 2009 festivals as well. The Final selected five haven’t been revealed yet but it’s fun to speculate.

So I pose the question: if you could bring back five Fringe productions – whether to relive something you loved or rewrite the past and see what you had previously missed – what would they be?

Here are mine:

i) World’s End Lane, ANU Productions (originally ABSOLUT Fringe 2010)

Laundry received a lot of attention last year but ANU’s excavation of the Monto area began with this previous piece. Supposedly equally as compelling, World’s End Lane gives its audience their own experience in what was once the most notorious red light district in Europe. Director Louise Lowe is handling theatrical realism in such a way that hasn’t been seen in this country before.  Several times I ran to the venue in hopes of a return but alas ...   

Chances of it in Turn Around: I imagine it’s really important to ANU that their Monto plays be staged in the area itself. Plus, its site-responsive nature probably isn’t suited to the Project indoors.

ii) Eternal Rising of the Sun, HotForTheatre (originally ABSOLUT Fringe 2011, pictured at top)

If you haven’t already gotten yourself to I Alice I and met the charming and talented Amy Conroy, then I strongly advise that you get to the Peacock where the show begins its previews tonight.  In this follow-up production, Conroy plays an inner-city mother who takes dancing lessons in an attempt to assert control in her life. Not only is Conroy capable of delivering her own writing with sheer sincerity but this production will likely see her exerting some physicality, which is exciting considering her (and director Veronica Coburn’s) history with Barabbas.

Chances of it in Turn Around: Very likely. Eternal Rising was a sold-out, critical darling and Conroy’s Irish Times Theatre Awards nomination (and hopefully win!) will surely gather a crowd. Plus, the timing doesn’t clash with Alice at the Peacock.

iii) Who is Fergus Kilpatrick?, The Company (Originally ABSOLUT Fringe 2009)

Once upon a time it was recommended to me as a theatre student to go see Who is Fergus Kilpatrick?. Needless to say: I fu*ked up. I have since been curious about the production that proceeded the wonderful As you are now so once were we. The Company exercise a deconstructionist philosophy that is rendered accessible and fascinating through the natural charisma of the ensemble’s relationships. Fergus Kilpatrick has been described to me as a meta-theatrical romp, extracting postmodern irony by transforming Jorge Luis Borges’s short story and the theatre space into a simulation of itself.  

Chances of it in Turn Around: I would like to wish “yes” but I honestly don’t know. It’s convenient that both Nyree Yergainharsian and Brian Bennett have both just finished working on productions. If we say hypothetically that the ensemble are waiting until September for Fringe to debut their new work, Politik, and taking into account that they revived shows the past two years around this time, then there’s a possibility they’ll stage something. On the other hand, Fergus Kilpatrick has already been revived and it might be a question of whether or not there’s an audience left to see it.   

iv) Soh, Spilt Gin (originally ABSOLUT Fringe 2010)

Spilt Gin’s Fringe offering last year – You Can’t Just Leave – There’s Always Something – was a show that I really liked but didn’t get the time to write about. This site-specific production took us to a Georgian House (somewhere in Rathmines I think – don’t know my South side very well) so enormous that it required twelve actors and four playwrights to fill. But fill it they did, and Stone’s treatment of the space was tantalising. The previous year the company produced James Hickson’s Soh, which appears to be a sensuous knot of gothic melodrama and romantic poetry, stylized by electric-coloured ribbons which anchor themselves to a typewriter.

Chances of it in Turn Around: Can’t really say. I would love to see this exciting company getting to produce more work.

v) Man of Valour, The Corn Exchange (originally ABSOLUT Fringe 2011)

I really miss The Corn Exchange (the last I saw of them was Freefall in 2010) and I’ll be kicking myself for a long time for missing Man of Valour.  In this blockbuster an office drone frees himself from the humdrum of reality through the Commedia mayhem that we’ve come to love, powering through with a superhuman performance by Paul Reid.

Chances of it in Turn Around: A long shot. I understand that the tech and design in this show is on a grand scale, so it doesn’t come cheaply. Also, Reid will be gracing the Abbey boards in Alice in Funderland at that time. Sigh

(Also: WillFredd’s Follow needs to be seen by more people).

What is everybody else’s picks?

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