Twenty Ten at the P.A.C

October 24, 2013

The idea- if not the scope-of Twenty Ten is simple enough.

THEATREclub, past recipients of the Spirit of the Fringe award, sent one email a day to a number of volunteers for an entire year asking them; “what did you learn today?” The answers were collected and culled to provide the text for six stand alone shows, each one covering the events of two months- or one six hour show covering the whole year. But how best present this crowd sourced material? That is the question directors Doireann Coady and Grace Dyas have failed to deal with in a project that was both ambitious and amusing yet uninvolving and unenlightening.

2010, a year punctured into the psyche of this Republic like few before it, was mused upon day after day through the thoughts of the anonymous responders who waxed lyrical on the year that was. Their contributions were at times touching, droll, funny and often helpful (“Short, surprise visits, with fast escape routes is the best way to visit your family”). The impressive cast of six stayed delicately attuned to the emotions that pulsed beneath the shortest of verbal beats and the directors found several ways to keep the piece from becoming inert. They had the cast don party hats, play the piano, break into song and walk off or around the stage. Every mention of financial hardship was greeted by the slamming of coins of the floor while the heavy snow at either end of the year was realised by a stagehand with a fan blowing fake snow on the actors. All the while a giant, metal sign bearing the name of the year counted down the days, a bing signaling the passing of another 24 hours.

Whenever a cast member stumbled on a line they clapped in unison and when a break was required from the repetition they would indicate to the sound booth and break into deliberately dire dancing. This was wonderfully exploited for dramatic effect during a powerful and heartfelt plea delivered by Louise Lewis, which underscored our national apathy.

It was a stunning act of endurance where the actors recited what amounted to a Twitter feed back to an audience for six hours without it ever becoming boring and while many of the contributions were mawkish, trite and self-pitying there were pearls amongst the swine. But although the paranoia’s, insecurities and observations staged were familiar, they told us little about ourselves and less about the titular year as no effort was made to put these thoughts into context. Dealing almost exclusively with the concerns of those in their early to mid twenties the fact that the contributors knew that their daily mails were going to end up in a show made their comments feel disingenuous and the self-aggrandising and self-referencing of the company and the game itself within the production made me wonder just how wide they cast their net in search of contribution.

Praise should be given for their moxie and for their desire to create something original and accessible and yes – epic. There were moments of social acupuncture, of puncturing a moment in time. But without really exploring the comments received Twenty Ten rarely says anything that you wouldn’t catch in an RTE vox pop and bore all the insight of Baz Luhrmann’s “Everyone’s Free’ (To Wear Sunscreen).


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