Friday, September 23, 2016

Malaprop, 'BlackCatfishMusketeer': Love Letters

Falling in love or into a trap? Dylan Coburn Gray's play looks at the world of dating profiles. Photo: Molly O'Cathain

The Lir, Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival
Sept 20-24

A quick review of BlackCatfishMusketeer by Dylan Coburn Gray coming up just as soon as suggestive ellipsis … 

Since Cyrano stirred Roxane with his disguised love letters, the use of deception in romantic matters has walked a blurry ethical line. Dylan Coburn Gray’s rich new play for Malaprop finds a contemporary equivalent in the world of dating profiles, where background histories, images and banter are traded unchecked. It mightn’t be clear if you’re falling in love or into a trap. 

Proceeding from charismatic first impressions onto personal truths, Zadie and Adam (Catherine Russell and Ste Murray, charming as they are quick) are two pictures of modern wooers. They reward each other with quirky gifs and intellectual links embodied by the Internet (Aoife Spratt, donning the vintage-wearing eccentricity of Zooey Deschanel). 

Things are different, of course, behind the screens, and after a cutting betrayal it’s kind of hard to believe the play continues on. Astonishingly, Coburn Gray’s characters are willing to hear each other out and suspect something more behind the masks. 

There are more questionable places to go for answers than Wikipedia. The play’s research filters in quite literally through the characters’ links, and before you know it the action is being contextualised in terms of cubism and apotheosis. These are profound angles for looking at modern life but even the combination of Claire O’Reilly’s sprightly direction and Molly O’Cathain’s workable design can’t make room for the references to breathe. 

It's a shame; this company has made some of the best sense out of contemporary life in recent years. But here, book smart doesn’t quite translate into street smart. 

What did everybody else think?

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