Celebrity @ The Cube
January 24, 2011
One can’t help but role ones eyes when reading the press release for Peer to Peer’s debut production which runs in the Cube at the Project Art Centre till the end of this week. With its talk of being “a multi-platform theatrical experience”, references to social networking and Madeline McCann plus a stated aim to “reflect the current times in the fractured way that we experience them” the alarm bells are well and truly ringing. Is this going to be one of these painfully modern experiences, which are all flash and little substance? The case could certainly be made. But it is also winningly performed, enthusiastically presented and genuinely funny lacking the stank of self-belief run a muck which can often overpower the charm of such pieces.
It’s brief is broad, taking in the guides, quizzes, games and delusions we often consult and submit to in trying to ensnare a mate. Having set this up riotously in the plays opening salvo it goes on to look at the means of modern dating (the aforementioned social networking) and how one puts forward a better version of themselves with the inevitable fall out when the real you steps out from behind your binary self. It follows the desperation of a tweet happy couple Simon (Matthew Ralli) & Margaret (writer Jody O’Neill) as they try to maintain a home-built on bullshit, attempting to become the person they portrayed in the beginning through diet and distractions. A ‘baby’ is concocted, a lamp called Plumb who Ralli voices via monitor giving rise to a “child’s” purpose, particularly in a loveless marriage, while the ups and downs of family life are mirrored through the headlines as Simon & Margaret channel Posh and Becks, Sloshed and Pecs and Brad & Angelina/Jennifer. It’s during this segment that the style starts to overwhelm the substance and the dark turn the play takes at the end, channeling the Shannon Matthews case, is done a little to flippantly for the subject matter.
This is a visually engaging production with director Carl Kennedy using a series of tricks to keep the pace flowing steadily from one concept to the next. The world of the rat pack is suggested when the old school romance they both desire is dreamed of while their fast paced, snappy ad speak suggests the multimedia world they seek it in. The way happiness is equated with celebrity is suggested in Paul O’Mahony’s set, lit up like a dressing room mirror while the fear that we are loosing our ability to connect with one another in spite of the multiplying means of communication is brought about by the jolting changes of pace.
This is an impressive if imperfect debut that anyone who has forgone the “come to bed” eyes in favor of the MSN Chat can relate to. In trying to make a traditional narrative out of such an engaging structure they weakened their aesthetic approach but nonetheless entertained and enamored us to both performers and director. A clearer sense of purpose and a dissection of fewer topics might have made Celebrity a more potent parable of our time. As it is it’s an amusing watch.
11 – 29 Jan 2011
Time: 8.15 PM