Greener at the Gaiety Theatre

October 24, 2013


“He’s a bit of a smart Alec, tells a few jokes, but you can’t imagine ever having a conversation with him.” So says Deirdre O Kane’s Jean, referring to Frank (Cranitch), husband of Noirin (McLynn) in Fiona Looney’s Greener. The same could be said of this production, which opened at the Gaiety last week. The final part of an accidental trilogy, it sees the playwright get the comedic scutters excreting cracks, puns and one liners at every turn while failing to deal with the sense of loss, lack of purpose and at times selfishness and selflessness of the characters she has written.

Against Joe Vanek’s split set, where two kitchens play host to nasty nattering and dirty deeds, the lottery has been won, independently, by one of the couples. As one dreams of new beginnings by the sea, the other wants a fresh start with a best friend’s spouse. And from this the supposed tension rises. Throw in a subplot involving the threat of emigration and a slaughtered kitten and you have a night of painful relevance striving for easy laughs being torn apart by indecision. Should it be sidesplitting or sentimental?

For the most part, the scenes of dramatic worth are played off stage, with text messages playing the part of the Greek chorus, suggesting later reveals. By the sounds of the audience, few were looking up to join the dots. Perhaps director Jimmy Fay should have kept our attention on the stage rather than blaring the 4fm approved soundtrack, signaling to the audience they’d time to chat. He could also have changed the staging up a little, rather than having the characters constantly looking out in a straight line. And more definition needed to be put into the boarders between the houses, with characters walking through brick walls with impunity. If this was meant to be some sort of social commentary on boundaries, it wasn’t clear.

It’s a bad sign when the lowering of a bottle bank raises the roof (no context needed. That’s all that happens), suggesting an audience, promised “a laugh out loud rollercoaster ride” had to make do with the subtlest absurdities. They deserved better than the substitute for story they are given here, where O’Kane has nothing to do but ponder, Conlon wears the “Prick of the Week” shoes menopausal mags for matriarchs peddle to their prime audience, while McLynn puts her signature whine into every sentence so while the “go on, go on, go on’s” might be absent, Mrs. Doyle is still in the vicinity of her performance.

Truth be told this is not inclusive theatre. The hen like hilarity will only appeal to the mothering clique. Based on script and performance (where only the typically steadfast Cranitch is given the chance to shine) this holds no appeal to any audience member looking for a good nights theatre rather than simply any old night out.

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