Friday, September 19, 2014

Gentle Giant Theatre, 'Whichever1uFeed': Pal, You're a Lamb

Christ admits his violent fantasies in this biblical retelling. What meaning then is given to his temptations?

The Stables, Dublin Fringe Festival
Sept 15-20

My review of Whichever1uFeed by Ross Gaynor, Neil Watkins and James O'Driscoll coming up after the jump ...

According to the Bible, Christ went into the desert and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. It seemed to be with coolheaded confidence that he trumped Satan, who appeared and asked why he doesn't turn the stones to bread? However, when Lucifer is the witching Neil Watkins, donning sunglasses and a satiny tennis outfit, Christ mightn't find his adversary as easy to fend off.

Then again, Gentle Giant Theatre's new production sets out to show that things aren't so black and white. As Patrick W Anthony's campfire lighting flickers against the whitewashed walls of the enclosed Fumbally Stables, the biblical tale is retold with Christ, played by a hardy James O'Driscoll, admitting his violent fantasies. Watkins has parodied religious tropes in the past for the sake of exorcising shame, specifically with his tour de force The Year of Magical Wanking. Here, along with O'Driscoll and playwright Ross Gaynar, attention is drawn to a very real addiction.

In its different shades of humour and drama, Whichever1youFeed doesn't quite congeal. Mark Fitzgerald's direction can't resolve the fact that both Watkins and O'Driscoll feel like they belong to two different plays; the former with his recognition of the audience and diva-styled throwaways ("I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you"), and the latter with his soft soliloquies and noticeable intimation of local Dublin. The action doesn't rise but rather patters back and forth between the characters, eventually accumulating in an underwhelming blackout. It's a shame because there is the underlying attempt here to recognise sadomasochism as something to be understood rather than in its usual taboo. A more centred staging might startling reveal that to consider the light, we must first dabble in the dark.

What did everybody else think?

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