By Jim Dalglish
Directed by Jim Dalglish & Ian Ryan
The Pearse Centre 7:30pm until Sat May 13; €10 matinee @ 4pm Sat May 13
Without wanting to give anything away, Lines in the Sand achieves something unique. The audience is left to wonder where the hell we are and what the hell is happening. As we uneasily let our minds race in all directions, trying to second-guess the clever writing of Jim Dalglish is impossible.
Nick Bucchianeri (Boy) should be applauded. A skilful and natural young actor, being given such layered and challenging material at such an age demonstrates how talented he really is. Tony Travastino (Man) doesn’t go easy on him either and it’s his confident and unwavering approach, to play the truth of his character – without compromise, that grips you right from the opening scene.
Whilst cleverly twisting and turning, at times, Boy seems to break into heartfelt monologue with insight and knowledge way beyond his years and his character arc seems somewhat implausible at times, given that these events only happen over one night. This really should be a full length production where character progression can be slowed, ensuring we see all the stages of how these two men deal with their unexpected meeting.
Where this play ultimately succeeds however is in is how it deals with the detail of what has happened surrounding this story. As an audience, we are left to conjure up our own images. It is this clever technique, utilizing the audience’s ability to imagine what they don’t want to imagine that raises the stakes, taking us with these characters and makes us care as if we were there.
A brave psychological thriller, Lines in the Sand explores the struggles of growing up gay and the dangers boys and young men face whilst they try to desperately ‘find a place where you aren’t afraid to be who you are inside’.
Now, I don’t know much about boxing but I do remember former Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury got into hot water last year over his comments on gay people, causing a flurry of news headlines on whether he was entitled to be shortlisted as BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year. This brought up the subject of not only homophobia in boxing, but homophobia in sport in general.
In Hope Theatre Company’s Gypsy Queen, Ryan Clayton (those eyes!) plays Dane Samson, an out and proud gay boxer who has fought the struggles of homophobia within the boxing community and won. Rob Ward (also the writer of this piece) plays ‘Gorgeous’ George O’Connell, who is about to embark on not only a professional boxing career but a gay love affair he never saw coming.
From the get go both actors bounce with energy through a flurry of characters, including Samsons’ secret fuck-buddy (again beautifully played by Ward). A special mention also must go to Clayton’s, Aunt Rose. It takes some balls to try your hand at the Irish accent in front of a home crowd, and although it was hard to pinpoint exactly which county the accent came from, it was still a charming attempt!
I was taken aback at how well their faces and physicality changed for each character each actor played. Both Ward and Clayton chew up the scenery in the moving final scenes of this piece. Hats off to Adam Zane for his stellar work in direction and Ward’s writing was so good, I didn’t see the time go by at all
Gypsy Queen continues at The Players Theatre at 7.30pm until May 13, with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm, tickets here.
Here’s a show that packs a punch with a diamond-clad fist! Masterfully written and performed by Margo MacDonald, The Elephant Girls recounts the escapades of a real-life, all-women gang, who roamed the London streets in the 1920s.
We enter this hard and harsh world by way of having a drink with Maggie, one of the gang’s toughest members. She has a scowling face and rough voice, which contrast sharply with her impeccably tailored suit and coiffed hair. It is a cruel world she inhabits, and Maggie has learned to savagely survive it.
Maggie’s relationships with other women range from adoration to disgust. She uses and abuses some, while demonstrating total loyalty and commitment to others. Recounting a fascinating story, MacDonald gives a very powerful and captivating performance, deftly guiding us through this dark world of crime and cruelty. This one is well worth a watch.
The Elephant Girls continues at the Outhouse Theatre at 9.00pm until May 13, with a matinee on Saturday ay 2.30pm, tickets here.
FESTIVAL REVIEW: The Elephant Girls runs at Outhouse until Saturday at 9pm Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
Canadian Margo Mac Donald dons a mafia style pin strip suit to tells us the fascinating story of the East End of London’s notorious lesbian gang, which terrorised, lusted, controlled and rampaged through London for almost a century. Maggie Hale (Mac Donald) is our butch guide through the fascinating of power and criminality at a time when London’s underground pulsated with life, death and hidden passions.
Grappling and succeeding with a cockney accent, this super smooth no holds barred narrative is gripping, creepy and criminal. Directed by Mary Ellis we encounter Hale in a bar and after a few pints she begins to spill the beans on a century of secrecy that is a riveting as it is revealing. Beautifully and assuredly played, the gang undoubtedly did succeed and endure, if all its members packed a lunch like Mac Donald’s assured gender stretching performance delivered with charm and aplomb.
You will not know this story, but you will know the characters intimately by the time the story of the Elephant Girls concludes. It is a fascinating insight to a chapter of the hidden history of lesbianism condemned to the shadows and for far too long. The bright light shone by writer Mac Donald is truly illuminating – her performance memorable.
A must see. AO’B
FESTIVAL REVIEW: Spool runs at The Teachers Club until Saturday 9pm and Saturday has a matinee at 4pm.
Two handsome young men are tied together in a beautiful exploration of the pressures faced by young men in exploring modern masculinity. Engagement with social media can confuse and prioritise the physical self from the critical uniqueness of the individual – the emotional self. How do you survive today if one dominates the other? Finn Cooke and Otto Farrant demonstrate how these two are different – one balletic, one literal, both are inter-dependent. Both sleep, wash, play, breath and dance together in perfect harmony. The pressures of modern existence become too much when one feels he can survive away from the other.
This is a blend of physicality, dance and intellect with some beautiful balletic moments, strong and humorous imagery, innocence and relevance. Farrant and Cooke shed all physical inhibition to blend, perform and flow together until cut in two. Can one survive just in body or just in mind in modern society where image is all and communication of the person’s value diminishing in a virtual world?
This melodic duet of body and mind is perfect for audiences of all ages – it explores masculinity in a beautiful form rarely seen and that is just one of the clever levels unmasked in this delightful gem developed by two young performers with a lot to say. Don’t miss it. GF
FESTIVAL REVIEW: Lines In The Sand
The Pearse Centre Ireland Institute, 27 Pearse Street 7.30pm Saturday matinee 4pm.
Lines In The Sand by Jim Dalglish is a real thriller on so many levels. It is a dramatic thriller as this older man rescues a 15 year old boy from a violent altercation in the woods. Why has he been stalking him? It is a production thrill in the quality of the on stage work at all levels. This very fine production co-directed by Dalglish and Ian Ryan is edgy, atmospheric and gripping. Nick Bucchianeri as the 15 year old boy is stunning, vulnerable, brave, sensible and loyal. Tony Travostino as the Man, is rugged, sinister, tough, warm, and plausibly regretful.
The dynamic on stage between these two actors is at times heart-stopping. Set in a small town in the US over a 24 hour period, the sense of place is beautifully illuminated with graphics by Jackie Reeves and well timed sound effects. These two Man and Boy are from the lower end of the social order dealing with the impact of drugs, religion, sexuality, violence and crime. The pace pushes ahead of the plot in a manner that increases the intensity and unlocks the reason this older man followed a group of teenagers into the woods. The resulting 24 hours show the humanity and the maturity of uncovered hopes and dreams.
You won’t have seen a play quite like this before under the banner of lgbt theatre and you won’t wonder why it is such a worthy inclusion in the programme – it is so well done.
Runs until Saturday. DM
Our Week 2 programme running from May 8 to 13 has it all!
Love, crime, comedy, tense drama, touching true stories, critically-acclaimed drama, dance and more!
Lines in the Sand: a riveting and suspenseful drama where a vulnerable gay student falls under the spell of an older man.
Gypsy Queen: an unlikely relationship starts between two boxers. Already promising to be a hit of week 2, from the writer of ‘Away From Home’.
The Elephant Girls: don’t miss this critically-acclaimed show, the amazing true story of the rise and fall of an all-female criminal gang who ruled South-East London.
Queers: in modern London a diverse range of LGBTQ and straight-ish characters tell their intertwining stories.
From the director of our 2016 smash-hit 5 Guys Chillin’
A Peculiar Arrangement – Mike is engaged to Jenny but then he meets John… Things are about to get a lot more complicated in this dark piece.
Love Trumps Everything / How we GLOW – four stories celebrating LGBT people in America – real stories of young New Yorkers, Calamity Jane, marriage ‘made in heaven’ and more.
Joto! Confessions of a Mexican Outcast – the touching, funny true story of being the ultimate outsider. The perfect antidote for anyone suffering from Trump overload!
Spool is a critically-acclaimed must see. A young man’s mind and body interwine through dialogue and dance.
FESTIVAL REVIEW: An Unexpected Party
runs until Saturday 6th at the Teachers Club.
My Saturday matinee was spent at festival newcomers An Unexpected Party. This new Irish play and its author Simon Murphy says something important about suicide. It unpacks the aftermath and the blame in a manner necessary to bring a national conversation forward. To paraphrase: ‘if you don’t name it – it doesn’t exist”. We all know suicide exists in the lgbt community but it gets away with being nailed, as people don’t name it for what it is and it’s lingering legacy endures and hurts too many and too long. There is humour in this play too but despite the good playing from the female characters (best friend and sister), it definitely needed a better on-stage treatment than managed by director Brian Quinn and his cast.
Firedoor’s cast have an empathy and charm but the production is stilted, the humour unnecessarily pointed up and there is an uneveness in the casting. There are many endings suggested in the piece and I am not convinced the optimum was chosen by Murphy, though it did diffuse the subject matter to ease the audience out of the challenges posed. Perhaps Zach’s wisdom, beyond his years, could be the key to a more impactful drama, as he was rather diminshed by the camp exit having made his contribution to the plot, in a bizarre but effective role. GF