Thursday, October 04, 2007

Playboy of The Western World in the Abbey.

First of all, let me just say, if anyone likes this play for Synge's language then they will be sorely disappointed. This production is set in a modern Ireland of gangs and money lending and angry bored women and vicious manly men. Roddy Doyle has zapped the play's language into his usual sweary Dublin Northsider/Commitments/The Family/ask me bollocks-ese. Bisi Adigun has balanced that out by opening Playboy to a broader more lyrical stage.
Right, did we get that out of the way?
Good.
The second thing I want to say is that if you like going to plays and you thought you might give this one a go, then for God's sake don't miss it. It is an absolute scream. Hilarious with a capital H. I know everyone uses the phrase 'roller coaster' but dammit it what else can you call something that has you laughing like a loon one minute and fearful the next?
The place was stuffed to the gills last night, there was not one but two Late Late Show Presenters on hands, actors and directors (hello Neil Jordan, Conan went to see your film you know), theatre folk, television folk and then us, the Joe publics. And I can tell you honestly everyone of us must have had aching sides leaving the theatre, the play is THAT funny.
Eileen Walsh who plays Pegeen has the comic timing of a professional comedienne. Even her little smug squeaks- like when Christy shakes off the prowling lusty Widow Quin- had the audience in stitches. But her Pegeen was more than that, she was woman trapped. Her bawdy humour, her front, was the only way she could deal with her life. Bored out of her mind, faced with marrying a sap, stuck in a never never world of violence, boredom, fealty, fear and loneliness, her vicious humour is both shield and weapon.
Giles Terera plays Christy, a Nigerian on the run with a terrible secret. One that once revealed gives him a fame and notoriety that sees Christy blossom from terrified fugitive to self proclaimed warrior and defender of the bar. His machismo is ridiculous, his story growing every more dramatic on each retelling. What woman could resist this madman? what man could turn him in? He's on their side, the lawless, the villains. Better to recruit than to fight.
Giles plays Christy with an an athletic, poetic abandon, weaving across the stage, leaping singing, strutting like a newly feathered peacock. Some of the scenes where he proposes love to Pegeen are a riot, where pumped full of bravado he offers to take her hand and walk her down the banks of the Liffey and 'through Blanchardstown shopping centre'. His stage presence is magnetic and his asides are so finely timed that the chap sitting next to me almost had a stroke from laughing.
I could go on. Angeline Ball as the lusty busty tart with a hart, the Widow Quin whose tabloid fame is a badge of honour, is a scream, the three young 'wans', with their Uggs and ever present mobile phones ready to catch any whiff of excitement and scandal, are her perfect underlings. Liam Carney is excellently as Pegeen's father, the right balance of menace and love and under-the surface-bubbling violence and again so very funny, as were this two Hench men, who had some of the best lines.
Olu Jacobs- Christy's father added the notes of grace and strength. His African dress and regal bearing shone like a beacon through the weasel world as his search for his son ruffled many feathers. The fight between father and son at the end, as each struggle for their right to be top dog was shockingly physical for the stage.
Pegeen's weepy realisation at the end was almost too much for me. How close she had come to breaking free, but like a caged bird she could not flee when the door was opened. Her final shaken 'fuck off' as the lights went down was heartbreaking.
And fuck off I did, home to have a glass of wine and try make sense of all I had seen. What a wonderful night at the theatre.
If you get a chance, don't pass it up. This is what the stage should be.
Now I must go ring CG and say thanks again for the great seats. Yay.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Conan Drumm said...

Will try to get to see it. A great play remade is usually still a great play. Now, when will someone in this country write a great new play - with as big a cast - and what theatre will take the risk of putting it on?

11:10 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Now that IS the question.

11:42 a.m.  
Blogger Dr Maroon said...

A lot of people forget that the original was very funny. And tragic of course.

12:19 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

True, I never saw the original being performed, but I did read it-not the same thing though.

12:51 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Excellent review, FMC. I'd love to hop on a plane and see it this instant.
Look at you rubbing elbows with the glitterati.

2:59 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

It really was terrific Medbh, so vigorous!

3:09 p.m.  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Well hell-in-tights, I feel bloody well hard done by now because I'm not going to get the whiff of a chance to see it way over here.

That was a great review, fmc - you did the thing justice describing it. Wish I could go - you made it sound like a production not-to-be-forgotten.

4:52 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Surely it will go on a bit of a tour no? I must check that out. If it does do go see it, it was really very good indeed. So much so I have bored the poor old paramour senseless gabbing on about it. Not a play sort of chap. Unless I used football analogies to describe the goings on. You know, Pegeen thought Christy was completely offside but Christy was through on ball and protested Shaawn was the last man back. That sort of thing.

6:49 p.m.  

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