Friday, May 10, 2013

HotForTheatre, 'Eternal Rising of the Sun': Fighting For Your Life Inside a Killer Thriller Tonight

Pavillion Theatre, Dun Laoighre
May 9

My review of The Eternal Rising of the Sun by Amy Conroy coming up just as soon as I wait after the credits for a secret message ...

"Now this is the story all about how/My life got flipped, turned upside down ...". So the song goes, describing Will Smith's arrival to his "kingdom" in the The Prince of Bell Air. Gina Devine can see her "kingdom" when she closes her eyes and dances. She can imagine a life of fame and the glory; of having it easier. But as she slips on the bathroom tiles while practicing her moonwalk (her bedroom was carpeted) reality rears its head and pulls her back into its ugly rhythm. Writer and performer Amy Conroy has stacked the odds very heavily against her heroine in this follow-up to the superstar debut Alice I, so much so that as an audience we must prepare to see this fictional yet very real character be crushed right before us.

Eternal Rising sees a Dublin inner-city mother trapped by the men in her life - a resentful father and a parasitic boyfriend. Surrounded on all fronts, she seeks escape by signing up to dance classes in the local community centre. Under the tutelage of the amiable Anton, Gina goes through her paces and begins to embrace a new idea: that perhaps she's not as hopeless as she thinks.

What makes Conroy such an exceptional voice is that she's book-smart disguised as street-smart: as well  as crafting characters with voices and mannerisms so recognisable from the world we live in, she also has the technical know-how to make an audience really want for them. She's a top-class storyteller and one hell of a performer. In Alice she played a much older woman so she didn't have to perform quite as physically as she does here (under the sprightly direction of Veronica Coburn of Barabbas fame).

Ultimately a tale of deliverance, this play reaches deep inside and tugs on those feelings of insecurity that we all have in our souls, those admissions to hopelessness and despair; the black hole uncovered until, that is, the glorious sun rises and burns it all away. It's a stunning story which raises our anticipations for HotForTheatre's upcoming Break project at the ABSOLUT Fringe festival in September, which will interrogate the Irish public education system.

What did everybody else think?

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