Candy Flipping Butterflies

April 23, 2010


It’s been a long time since I have come away physically affected by a piece of theatre but after sitting through the agony about ecstasy that is Candy Flipping Butterflies I’m shaking like a Polaroid picture. I’ve bemoaned the lack of contemporary relevance in Irish theatre since I started writing about theatre but good God, give me the cadavers of the cast of Glenroe horsing their way through whatever John B Keane play the provinces desire then make me sit through this painfully inept portrait of the children of the jilted generation again.

Shriekey, cantankerous and seriously puerile it was like spending 60 minutes trapped on the back of the 19A with a Power City add played at full volume and off its tits on coke. If you never did drugs before you’d be driven to their loving arms by the contrived characters Karl Argue inflicts on us and on his poor actors.

Meet Gosger (Chris Gallagher) , a perpetually mad out of it DJ raised by a pair of holy molys after his mother (who named him after a dog) abandoned him. He seems completely unaware of Charlie’s ( Aoibheann McCaul) affections for him, though given that she is never short of mounting him its hard to see how. She’s a first year medical student, obsessed with the corpse she is dissecting, who doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. All she knows is that she doesn’t want this and, naturally enough, Daddy is to blame.

Daddy seems to be to blame for a lot of the stuff that goes down here. He is certainly to blame for Biscuit’s( played, quite charmingly, by Stephen Jones) fucked up existence, driven to drink and wracked by guilt over the death of his wife. Biscuit works in a sex shop and has fallen for Crummie (Carla McGlynn), a 16-year-old runaway from the rebel county, who has been taken in by our troika of ‘madourofits’ after her Da(who else), does bad things to her.

But we don’t actually dwell on this because, as Crummie informs us, “This isn’t that type of play”. Why explore issues like alcoholism, pedophilia, parental pressure and the distress of excess when you can just allude to them and get on with trite caricatures.

It’s easier to just stick with the falsely held belief that only fuck ups get fucked up. Drop outs, tear aways and trouble makers the lot who spend their days rubbing themselves off walls, vomiting at the dinner table and calling each other ‘babe’. All dealers are hardened Scots; All sessions are mating rituals where manglers seem to do nothing but flip out and writhe against one another;And everyone seems to be running from something or are in someway unfulfilled. No one has any direction, any ambition or any sense of self-worth.

I’m not saying I want a play that flys the flag for pharmaceuticals but please don’t insult my intelligence by making it seem like every person to pop a pill is on the road to ruin- or at least pulled in on its hard shoulder. That every man, woman and child whose ever indulged in a little medicinal meddling has something seriously lacking in their home life.

What are the real reasons people turn to illegal substances? What is the common bond shared by thousands of people from all walks of life? How were the inducted? How do they get out? Can they? What’s the appeal in pushing your body to the physical limit, staying up for days and wrapping ones brain around a psychotropic lamp-post? Tell us  and explore the consequences rather than regurgitating Skins without any of its insights. I wanted to come away from this piece in some way enlightened about drug culture. Instead I was enraged.

There are occasional laugh out load moments(particularly the criminally underused Neil Fleming as the aforementioned dealer) but they are hidden beneath some painfully loved up dialogue that is the literary equivalent of an Ecstasy dump, speedily and self-consciously expelled on an audience who themselves seem to be in a state of delectation  at this thoroughly modern theatrical experience.

This is a play that should have been avoided, derided and missed at all costs. Instead it played to packed houses. Which means at least there is a thirst for a theatre that deals with something other than the deconstruction of our Catholic psyche. It will be quickly quenched if all that’s served up is piffle like this.

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7 Responses to “Candy Flipping Butterflies”

  1. Stewart Says:

    Well Caomhan it is of very little concern to anyone else that you did not “walk away from this piece in some way enlightened” and were instead “enraged”. This is not surprising to me for someone who was, instead of being part of the drug culture, probably sat at home browsing through the thesaurus believing that it will credit you with the intelligence to have a valid opinion on the many concerns that invade your existence. This of course would have been done after you rushed home from a watering hole that deemed your presence worthy, having just gained the confidence from carefully selected companions who are ever reliable when a pat on the back is desired allowing yourself to embrace the feeling that the shit coming from your mouth is actually worth something. Your opinion is not really valid with something you know nothing about and especially if it is negative.

    I am not suggesting that in order for someone to love this play that they must have been in some way involved with drugs or the drug culture and evidence to this fact was overwhelming. Not only was this play a success, it was a huge success and everyone who attended showed this with standing ovations and a volley of cheers. This I believe, was purely because it was a very entertaining experience and a break through for the arts, taking into consideration that methods were used in the play that has not been done before. I don’t believe this play was intended to explain to the stuck up arseholes like yourself the reasons why these people got caught up in the drug culture just so you can justify something you don’t understand.

    It seems to me that the only person who should have “avoided”, “derided” or “missed” the play at all was you, much like you avoided the drug culture and the scoundrels that inhabited it. When you walked one way down the street (hoping that their may be some intelligent conversation in the taxi rank so you could inflict your latest concept on the problems with the recession on to a carefully selected unfortunate subject) with your nose in the air passing a group of overly optimistic punters walking in the opposite direction towards the clubs, wondering how much better then them you must be. No doubt did you at this point compare your latest edition to your self portraying wardrobe to the notions of what these people think it is ok to wear. Add your ever growing vocabulary to this equation and the feeling of being better than these menaces must have been sufficient for you, well done!

    Yes Caomhan this play should defiantly have been avoided, by you. It is such a shame that so many people wanted tickets and could not get them as it was SOLD OUT. Knowing that the seat you were in was not only wasted but completely unnecessary as you choose to sit there with your head up your arse is upsetting. May I suggest that next time you seek out a play that it is more suited to your tastes? Possibly a play about four pretentious pricks discussing their concerns for self actualisation and the perils of modern society over their regular ego boosting, personality crushing get togethers and their sought after favourite wine that is superior to Blossom Hill.

    And Coamhan, despite what you might have learned from films during the earlier years of your Friday nights, aimed at the temple is guaranteed… and squeeze don’t pull. Good luck.

  2. Trevor Says:

    Stewart, maybe you should back up your accusations and character assassinations with some evidence before you so ungraciously air them. Caomhan’s review was an impartial opinion of a piece of work made for public consumption and critique. Your comments are nothing more than subjective, unfounded, offensive and petty.


  3. Dear Stewart.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. All coments are welcome no matter how much their opinion differs from my own. I just had a few questions. And this is genuine interest and not me being a sarky cunt.

    1)What about my review led you to believe that i knew nothing about the clubbing sceene in Ireland?

    2) Why is my opinion on the subject matter “especialy not valid” if its negative. Had it been positive yet i was equally ignorant would there have been more of a place for it?

    3) How is this play ” a break through for the arts” and what were the “methods used in the play that has not been done before.”

    4)Do you not think that a play SHOULD explain to the stuck up arseholes like myself the reasons why these people got caught up in the drug culture , if for no other reason but to help us understand something we dont?

    Cheers anyway for sparking some debate. And just in case I didn’t make it clear in my review, Candy Flipping Butterflies sold out its run and while there was no standing ovation the night that i was there the audience did, by and large, love it.

  4. Shane Gately Says:

    Hay,
    Just to clarify,
    This play was not at any time to be an explaination for why people involved themselves in the durg/dance culture of that time.

    It was just a story of a group of friends, over a weekend, havin a laugh, experiencing what they wanted as young people, in an effort to express themselves.

    I do not believe that the play was marketed or being sold as a study of drug missuse among the youth population of ireland in the early 90’s. However I do offer My appologies to those who came to the show expecting this to be the case.

    Thank you for your review in any case. It was much appriciated.
    Regards,
    Shane Gately.

  5. DSONIK Says:

    I understand that the revewier has a job to do and words to write and everyone should have their opinion respected but hold the presses on this one dude.
    My opinion, for what its worth, is u are so far off the mark on this one.
    Candy Flipping Butterflies was a success in more ways than I think u could ever recognise with your obvious limited insight.
    I don’t care whether u have previous knowledge of ‘the clubbing scene’, as u call it, or not.
    I’m sure u have some theatre experience and by the law of averages you have probably managed a decent review or two but not this time.
    Candy Flipping Butterflies was a brilliant portrayal of a weekend in the lives of a group of friends during the early rave years. It was highly entertaining and the cast and writer brought all kinds of emotions to the audience and the audience connected.
    I am sorry you didn’t….but hey, thanks for doin the review and all.

    DSONIK.

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