Friday, September 23, 2016

That Lot, 'Traitor': Fighting the Power

A politician tries to see their radical message though in 2026. Photo: Keith Dixon 

Project Arts Centre, Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival
Sept 21-24

A quick review of Traitor by Shane Mac an Bhaird coming up just as soon as I ask a statue for permission …

“Do you ever feel like you left some part of you behind on the way”? Grace, possibly the first political candidate to ever utter the question, is speaking in 2026 during a reunion with a fellow protestor from 10 years ago. Shane Mac an Bhaird’s provocative new play, blending present and future, shows how fighting the power can become blurry from the precipice of becoming ‘the Man’. 

Grace (Roseanna Purcell) is uncertain whether to steer the country out of an ever-meddling Europe or heed the conformist advice of her aid (Aonghus Óg McAnally). She encounters her old peer Lizard (Kevin C Olohan), a demonstrator with such strong beliefs about the rationality of the future - he’s even transforming his body into machine code. For guidance, they revisit the past and their fallen friend Finbar (Jamie Hallahan). 

However, the devil is in the detail and Mac an Bhaird’s staging refuses to distinguish between time periods. It takes the fire out of Grace’s history as a church-storming pagan in 2016 when she’s still dressed in her politician’s get-up of slacks and a blazer. We’re even more unabsorbed when characters address a statue that has long since wandered off. 

The play's more curious about symbolic power, and the influence of protest languages such as blood sacrifice and self-immolation when, shockingly, one character offers up their life to rally change.

This is a full-hearted call for integrity in leadership. But the staging, like the message, should see itself through.

What did everybody else think?

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