Waiting For Ikea Review

February 25, 2010

Waiting For Ikea is one of those shows that refuses to die. First opening in 2007 at the Dublin Fringe Festival it’s been to Electric Picnic, Bewleys, Belfast and seems to be forever circling the M50 taking in the Axis, Draoicht, Mill and Civic Theatres. You can see why. Despite the shocking language it really is a show for all the family and co-writers/stars Georgina McKevitt and Jacinta Sheerin have the audience in stitches before they have even uttered a word with their comforting presentation of inner city Dublin life. Set in present day Pimlico it uses flash back and video footage to set up the relationship between life long buds Chrissie & Jade. The humor is often obvious but always natural and the vernacular of the two characters is so chock full of zingers you’ll need a repeat viewing to catch them all. Both women fully embody their characters, both physically and vocally and their comic timing is top class. There are one to many silences for my liking, such as when they address their neighbors,which could easily have been filled with a voice over and it drags a bit towards the end but this witty ascertation of community spirit contains some of the most unpretentious acting I’ve seen this year.


Five hundred years before people were being buried under the patio in Brookside and marrying their own sisters you had William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with its tales of incest, insanity, and apparitions. It set the standard for melodrama and nothing has surpassed it with regards the truth of the human condition ever since. It opened this week at The Helix brought to the stage by Second Age Theatre Company, who reach maturity this year, their 21st. It stars the RADA trained Marty Rea in the title role and Maeve Fitzgerald as Ophelia as they search for the meaning of life, the meaning of death and explore the loyalties of ason, of a mother and of a daughter.

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Hamlet @ The Helix : Reviewed

February 25, 2010

I hated the Dane. Or at least I feared him. Following a series of stodgy stagings and a number of seemingly never ending movies it seemed like every day was like Sunday in Elsinore.All that came to an end last night thanks to Marty Rea’s magnificent lead in Second Age’s Bronte inspired production.

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Victor & Gord: Reviewed

February 25, 2010

Inspired by the 08 Fringe show Susan & Darren from English production company Quarantine which examined an ongoing mother -son relationship, McEvitts show takes a snapshot of life long friends Victor(Victoria Curtis) & Gord ( Aine McKevitt) and bleeds it across the stage. Unfortunately it never really comes into focus with too much time wasted on basic drama school exercises ( “What I like about Victor/Gord is…), pointless musical interludes( Bohemian Rhapsody, Man in The Mirror) and painful, stilted silences between stories.

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Victor & Gord Interview

February 18, 2010

Someone once said that friendship is as delicate as glass; once broken it can be fixed but there will always be cracks. Most people keep these cracks well hidden, letting them shear like fault lines but most people are not Una McKevitt, an associate artist with the Project Arts Centre and creator of Victor & Gord which returns in its third incarnation in the Project this week. The show features three non-professional actors and is a rough and ready look at the effects the sands of time have on life long friendships.

Victor (Vikki)& Gord’s (Una’s sister Aine) friendship was the spring board on which the show was launched and it has previously also features a brother and a sister and two strangers getting to know one another. Was it tough working with ones sister under such intense, exploratory circumstances?

“Aine challenged me more than Vikki would” Una says, laying out the differences between the two performers. “Aine wanted to talk through everything all the time while Vikki was more easy going. But because what I’m asking people to do is to go out on stage and talk about themselves and open themselves up to strangers I had to keep the room with as little tension as possible.”

With no fourth wall between the audience and the performers anything can happen and McKevitt had to keep her actors in a place where they were confident. “It’s nerve wracking enough because they are not professional performers they need more reassurance. But if somebody is talking about himself or herself it’s important that it doesn’t sound overly rehearsed. So we didn’t write anything down. We did things through repetition. People talking about their life having learned about their own life.”

She was inspired to create Victor & Gord after a life changing theatrical experience at Fringe’08. “I went to see “Susan and Darren, which was about a mother and a son, which was very revelatory for me. They weren’t acting but it was still a piece of theatre. They were so aware of their audience which I found much more engaging than a lot of the theatre I was seeing at the time and it permanently affected the way I looked at the medium.”

Having wanted to work in theatre all her life but never feeling drawn enough to any one text to mount a production McKevitt felt the pieces of the puzzle come together. “I think things should be immediately evident. They shouldn’t be so complicated. So serious. So hidden. I know they have to be on some level but sitting down and trying to interpret a book was never what I wanted to do. I can’t even think of a play that I want to stage. I prefer going into a space and not knowing what’s going to happen.”

The play also gives life to characters that have been under represented on the main stage, that of young, middle class people who haven’t been through the horrors but still have a story to tell. “One of the tensions was that Vikki came out and wanted to go to the George and Aine wanted to go to the Queens in Dalkey and that tension of trying to stay friends despite this is a dynamic I have not seen on stage before.

Having thrice staged the production, making it fresh each time, where does Una see it going from here? “Were building a Victor and Gord family. The people who weren’t available this time might be available next time and people who are now might not be then. There is something interesting about that.”

She couldn’t do it without Victor and Gord. “They are the anchors for the piece. But it’s nice to know that people I haven’t met yet might join in. It always feels like a new experience every time I’ve staged it so I can certainly imagine doing it again.”

VICTOR AND GORD, 8.15PM, 15 – 27 FEB 2010, Tickets €15/12

Waiting for Ikea Interview

February 18, 2010

The first fringe show to sell out well in advance of its opening, Waiting For IKEA returns to the Civic Tallaght for what is already threatening to be another sold out run. Already seen by over 5000 people it was nominated for The Bewley’s Café Theatre Award & The Fishamble New Writing Award. Spend a day in the life of two inner city women as they wait for the next episode of Corrie, the next juicy bit of gossip and, of course, wait for IKEA in this heartwarming, recession proof show from real life friends Georgina McKevitt and Jacinta Sheerin

What is Waiting For IKEA about in your own words?

G:

Waiting for IKEA is the story of two friends, best friends, Chrissie and Jade, and you get to see them from adulthood to childhood and the bond they have between each other. It’s about relationships, relationships with friends, relationships with family, with your community, with your life and it focuses on relationships but in particular these two characters?

Is it in any way inspired by Waiting For Godot?

G:

When we wrote it we made no connection to Waiting for Godot, apart from the title, however others have made similarities between the two. The two characters in the play are always waiting and putting life off until tomorrow. At the time we wrote it (2007) IKEA was built but still un-opened. The general feeling about IKEA was that it would change your life and make everything beautiful. “They won’t shop in Argos ‘coz they are Waiting for IKEA”

Are the characters based on people you know or an amalgamation of people you know?

G:

The characters are not based on anyone we know they are definitely an amalgamation of people and would have aspects of ourselves in them also. The characters came to life themselves. There were times when we were shocked by what the characters revealed as they had a life of their own. I lived on Cork Street for two years; I also have family living in the area. There is such a sense of old school community in the area that was another relationship we wanted to explore.

Why do you reckon your show was the first to sell out well in advance of opening at the Fringe? Do you think having the IKEA brand in the name helped?

G:

The image and the name captured people’s attention. People related to it and saw something familiar. The pajama wearing phenomenon still exits. IKEA is still a bit of a mystery to those who have never been. The word of month continues to sell the show for us.

How did you go about devising?

L:

We always wanted to be in a show together so we always had an idea about doing a show about friendship and we sat down an tried to write it together and found that we weren’t very successful so we needed to go off and write it separately and come back and add and subtract to each others writing. We had the two characters in our heads for a while so we knew them quite well before we put pen to paper. Once we had them the characters wrote themselves organically?

Was this the first time you worked together?

G:

Well we started in DYT back in 1994 so we’ve known each other since then and then when it came to Fringe 07 we said let’s do it now. So that summer we worked hard and worked well ahead of our schedule and were prepared for the fringe festival that year.

Did anyone help you edit the piece together?

L:

Our director, Alan King, had a big contribution in terms of editing.  Because we were ahead of schedule for the fringe festival we got it directed quite quickly so we were able to put the material up on its feet quite quickly at an early stage. So we were able to edit from there. Alan had a big part to play in that process?

Have you been surprised by the shows success?

Both:

Yeah!

G:

I mean I can’t believe it’s 2010 and we’ve been going since 2007 and every time we’ve done the show it has grown a lot since the first time we did it in Bewleys.

L:

We first played to 50 people in the audience and now were at 250.

Any plans to continue after this run?

G:

Everytime we do it something more positive or amazing comes out of it. So we are very open to the universe providing us…

L:

We’re not sure where it’s going to take us but we welcome every opportunity.

The show has been a lunchtime show and an evening show. Is there a difference between both variations?

G:

It’s a very adaptable show. We’ve done it at comedy festivals where we did a shorter version of the show, when we go to the main stage we do the longer version,

L:

We went to EP two years in a row where we had to change it again cause we were competing with noise and attention spans. We tailor it to the audience.

Any more plans to work together in future?

L:

Because IKEA was such a success we both know our strengths and our weaknesses and we know where we can balance each other out. The ying to the yang. So we’d love to work together again. We suit each other. And were both versatile. We’d like to try our hands at a drama so were not stereotyped.

You spend a lot of time in PJs in the show. Will you let that creep into your everyday life?

G:

When we were doing the photo shoot for the piece we had to go around in PJs all day and you can defo sense the comfort of just wearing it all day. It was very liberating. Very comfortable. But I wouldn’t choose to go out in my PJs.

Civic Theatre until 20th Feb @ 8pm and The Mill Theatre Dundrum 22 – 27 Feb @8pm.

Having just sat through Finegan Kruckemeyer’s The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly at the Ark with an audience of under tens it really hit home how pretentious us adult theatre goers can be. Sitting in the dark with our first night faces on it seems like many in the audience are simply passing time at the main event before passing gas in the bar with their cronies afterwards. To watch an audience interact so honestly with a text was a joy, chewing up and digesting what was thrown at them and responding in kind.

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Haunted Review

February 16, 2010

There is something sadly lacking in Edna O Brien’s Haunted which played last week at the Gaiety Theatre. Despite some beautiful writing and polished performances I couldn’t help feeling intellectually peckish after emerging from a show whose language was all dressed up but had nowhere to go.

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Off Plan Review

February 16, 2010

The problem with Irish theatre today is that it spends too much time trying to appease audiences and not enough time challenging them. Enter Rachel West and RAW, whose production of Off Plan is currently running at the Project Arts Centre(till February 27th). Throwing all sorts of shit at the stage in the hopes that some of it will stick the show combines distorted electronica, live and pre recorded video footage and natural and stylised acting and, while some of it stinks to high heaven, what flowers out of it can be thought-provoking or at the very least visually engaging.

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Rachel West Interview

February 9, 2010

Two years after the success of Splendor, RAW theatre company and it’s artistic director Rachel West are back in town with OFF PLAN, a modern adaptation of The Oresteia by Simon Doyle. Specifically referring to the Ireland we live in today, it preserves the main characters and dilemmas, while exploring the eternal themes of power and morality, justice and revenge and questioning identity, both on the home front and the international stage.

Starting life as a series of workshops three years ago West gathered a video artist, a dancer, a writer, some actors and a lecturer from Trinity College together to see how different people from different mediums approached the text. They reconvened every six months until Doyle came up with a very rough draft, which was sent to the Arts Council with a request for funding.

It’s still in three parts, although the third, which deals with the establishment of the legal system, is rarely performed. I ask West why she resisted the urge to cut it from her version, which opens at the Project Arts Centre this Thursday. “I get really exited to think that that was literally the foundation of the democracy we go by to day,” she says. “That they created a jury of citizens and said you can’t continue to blame or ask the gods for everything. You have to start taking responsibility.”

They’ve scaled it right back and were unmerciful in chopping and changing stuff so that it would be quite a succinct play. The first part, although contemporary and modern, is still set in Argos, though it could be Killybegs or the Hinterland. It sounds a little bit more archaic than the second, which is more like a family drama. “We’ve really used the character of Electra, which would be more in tune with the Euripides version. We’ve really messed around with the classics, which is sure to piss of any real scholars.”

It’s not just the scholars that West may irk with her irreverence to the classics. When presenting his own production of The Bacchae last month director Andy Hinds spoke of his distaste for productions that put a contemporary gloss on the classics burying the issues at their heart, which were the very reason for their survival. What does West think of such sentiment given her companies aim to put on contemporary re-interpretations?

“ Everyone who writes a version of a classic, it’s his or her interpretation. Everything you do with the classics is an interpretation. Every version, whether its Kenneth McLeish or Brian Friel or whatever version you take, is some one else’s reading of it.

“People put on what they call a ‘classical production’… yet it sounds like it’s from the Victorian era, the 18th century, not ancient Greece. That was a time when a great interest in ancient Greece sprung up. They injected the classics with their values and now that’s what is perceived as being faithful to the text.”

She believes the stories and the dilemmas become a framework upon which the writer can hang relevant questions.” I keep saying to the actors, once you enter the world of these mad plays you start getting a bit nerdy about ‘well this writer says this and that writer says that’. They all changed each other’s versions. A license was used to take the epic stories of the classics and turn them into plays that were useful to that writer. “

As a theatre practioner in both Berlin and Dublin West feels caught between two stools. In Germany there have been a lot of developments because theatre is still a very important medium there and funded hugely. “The idea that theatre has to be saying something about now, quite clearly and firmly and the funding that goes into has meant that when styles, such as dance and multimedia, started to appear, they had time and effort to look into them. And resources and continuity.

“Which we don’t have. Which makes it difficult for companies like Pan Pan to bring out something that is aesthetically quite challenging. If you have continuity and your audience sees something like that quite regularly they want to move on and they take on Orestia’s that are being done by ten different directors, who all try and work out and speak about how we live today through the voice of a Greek play. You get better at it and your audience grows with you.”

The system needs to be reassembled and reorganized here so as to help companies build up an audience. “It’s really hard for an audience to rely on theatre in Ireland. The standard of the work is sometimes so bad we fall down and loose people and the next company has to fight to get them back again. Then you might have a success and people only find out its a success on the last night of the run because your only there for two weeks. “

With to many companies trying to do the same thing West things the Arts Council needs to look at adopting the Dutch model with more production hubs catering to the less artistic side of a show. “That way you won’t have so many badly produced plays and so many directors or writers worrying about financial things, which is not their job. They’re forced to become small time business people which keeps a lot of companies doing the same thing and everything stays at the same level.”

OFF PLAN

8PM, 10 – 27 FEB 2010, Theatre Space Upstairs, Tickets €22/18