As You Are Now So Once Were We@ The Peacock
February 4, 2011
2009’s Spirit of the Fringe winners The Company have revived their Joycieian fable As You Are Now, So Once Were We at the Peacock Theatre. Recipient of that same festival’s Best Production award in 2010 it is energetic, entertaining and aesthetically pleasing-if a little opaque.
Using the performers fractured remembrances of the hours leading up to the show it is vibrantly choreographed by director Jose Miguel Jimenez and originativley designed by Ciaran O Melia, where towering cardboard boxes stand in for physical and psychological architecture. As they indulge in a bit of pre show natter Nyree recalls her morning ablutions, Tanya relives the shame of a foot in mouth moment over and over (perhaps the cause for her not being able to remember anything else-including her cues) while Brian struts through the town, a Charlie Big Potato outrageously enamored with himself. As their stories overlap, underline and contradict each other the show remains immensely watchable aided by a terrific use of light and sound, a killer soundtrack and restraint in certain performances that wasn’t felt during its initial run.
The transfer to the smaller Peacock has made the subtleties in the acting-that may have been lost on the larger Project stage- more apparent bringing a depth to the tale, a charm and sense of feeling that resonates. It intensifies the confusion, the paranoia and the grandiose-although it could be said that the actors have just settled into their parts.
Nyree Yergainharsian in particular shows signs of being a beautiful actress, expressing a truth and an ease often missing from the more hardened, heralded heroines or the sharp and snippy sirens that tread the Irish boards. She seems to work from a neutral base I can see her project anything from, although this is only a hunch at this time. Tanya Wilson is also excellent, displaying an intelligence that made her performance touching, droll and immensely satisfying while Rob McDermott, who I’ve always found graceful on stage, is here also poignant.
The old guard whom this lot aim to usurp could never let go of their comedic clutch and, here, it is in Brian Bennett’s egomaniacal memories that the show comes a little undone. While I see what the company were trying to achieve with the character it was too mendacious, to the point that it distracted from the deftness of touch elsewhere. Like a red flag to a joke it played into the sycophancy of the younger audience and, though a gifted gesticulator, he was played to his strengths at the expense of his character and it proved a deterrent to connecting with the show on a deeper level on more than one occasion.
There were other faults. A heinous round of Simon Says, perhaps a signifier of fantasy run amuck, goes on for too long while the whole concept never really comes together to make a coherent point. It tugs at the strands of our mental fiber but after picking our interest leaves it hanging.
As You Are Now, So Once Were We is a visual feast washed down with great enthusiasm that stubbornly refuses to lapse into traditional structures. Instead of bringing the show to a defined stop it unravels it, reiterating their ideas so that they condensate. It’s unlike anything staged at the National Theatre before but while there is much to be applauded there is also much work to be done when it comes to making a cohesive point.
Date: 01 February 2011 – 05 February 2011
Price: €15.00 – 25.00