Saturday, September 23, 2017

Amanda Coogan and Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, 'Talk Real Fine, Just Like a Lady': Signs

An alluring version of The King of Spain's Daughter shows the deaf community's history of oppression. 

Peacock Theatre, Dublin Fringe Festival 
Sep 20-23

My review of Talk Real Fine, Just Like a Lady coming up just as soon as I listen to some Beethoven ...

A nude yellow canopy slips down around our heads, literally absorbing us into the fabric of Amanda Coogan and Dublin Theatre of the Deaf’s alluring new production. As if wearing a poncho, you’ll have difficulty trying to lift your hands. It’s an arch metaphor for the deaf community’s history of oppression.

As a version of Teresa Deevy’s The King of Spain’s Daughter - a 1935 play about silence surrounding violence against women - this new work considers the playwright’s deafness as part of its depicted trauma. Four women in azure blue (Coogan, Paula Clarke, Alvean Jones, Breda O’Grady and Lianne Quigley) emerge from the pit, as spiralling strings by Beethoven - another deaf artist - etch into the rafters. Under Coogan’s durational performance style, they dwell on their gestures with choreographic intensity before pointing to their hands as a profound symbol of communication. 

Coogan, who directs, and Jones, who dramaturgs, are aware that the women of Deevy’s day were expected to lip-read. Where the horrendous events of her play take place on a laneway with construction notices, this subversive production ends with a roadside rally and placards calling for the recognition of Irish Sign Language. Deevy knew well the power of signs.

What did everybody else think?

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