July 2, 2006 (No Responses)
AS PART OF our ongoing Year Of Debauchery we decided to get out to the theatre more often, and this weekend it was the turn of Somerset Maugham’s “The Constant Wife” at our favourite Dublin theatre, The Gate.
I have to say that I enjoyed this play completely, from start to finish. It’s a subtle comedy of female sexual and economic independance, set in the 1920s. The woman at the centre of it all is Constance Middleton, a smart, sexy and sassy women (for her time) who out thinks and out plays everyone else in the plot. The story is an old one, of marital infedility and social graces, of knowing one’s place and playingÂ theÂ ’expected’Â role within society – but Constance decides to take steps to control her own fate and the results are hilarious.
Directed by Alan Stanford this play is a wonderful example of sartorial elegance with styles, language and sets all complimenting the theme of the evening. The male characters in the play are suitably weak and confused in comparison to the guiles and wiles of a smart woman.Â Paris Jefferson doesn an excellent job of controlling the stage as Constance. She fairly eats up every scene and manages to impress throughout. For sheer witty retorts and beautifully delivered observations on the state of marriage and the infidelity of the male species Susan Fitzgerald excels as Mrs Culver, and looked like she was enjoying every single line in the process.
Stephen Brennan delivers an adequate performance as Bernard Kersal, the ever adoring love interest for Constance who has worshiped her from afar for his entire life, but somehow he just didn’t shine in the role. The costume designers and tailors are to be commendedÂ - the women have a fantastic array of period dresses and shoes to match which really sells the setting. Set design is minimal, but appropriate and allows your eye to wander from actor to actor without interuption as they glide from one side of the set to the other.
Overall I was seriously impressed with the language and the delivery of the lines. There are some absolute gems hidden within the story which will have you laughing out loud so hard the actors have to wait a few seconds for the commotion to die down before continuing. It’s all in the delivery and if you are lucky enough to get tickets to this show, keep your eyes on Constance and her mother, Mrs Culver – they get the best lines in the show obviously relish every chance to express them to the audiences.
The Constant Wife isÂ a witty andÂ intelligent comedy of sexual independance in a time when such thoughts were seriously frowned upon and I defy anyone to sit inÂ an audience and not laugh out loud and even cheer as Constance gets the upper hand.
For me though the purest moment of delight was when the actors were taking their bows at the end, for as the two lead male actors approach the stage from either side and then joined in the line for their bows, they remained in character (after the play) and threw each other a look that would kill, followed by devious grins and knowing smiles as they finally broke character and took the bows. It just somehow captured the mood of the play and really communicated how much fun these actors were having in the delivery of such wonderful content.
Go see it – you won’t be dissappointed.
March 19, 2006 (2 Responses)
LAST NIGHT SusiQ and I had the distinct pleasure of seeing what is generally regarded as Brian Friels greatest play – Faith Healer – at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. We had booked this sometime last year on hearing that Ralph Fiennes would be delivering one of the central characters, but then recently heard that the other two key characters would be played by none other than Ian McDiarmid and Ingrid Craigie. Suffice to say we were drooling at the prospect of such a powerful play delivered byÂ these threeÂ accomplished actors, and the good news is we were not dissappointed.
The play has been sold out for months now, and rightly so. If you have tickets or you can still get them (somehow) – then you really are in for a hell of a night. It’s worth every minute of rapt attention you can give it, and believe me – you will need to pay attention! I understand the production is heading to Broadway in April (minus Ingrid Cragie) so my American readers – get busy with the credit cards, you will not be dissappointed!
Directed by Jonathan Kent, Faith Healer is an intense, intimate and sometimes terrifying story of “Frank Hardy”, a travelling faith healer who never quite knows when “the gift” will work, but always knows when it won’t. He is accompanied by his wife/mistress (Grace Hardy) and his business manager (Teddy). The play is delivered in a series of individual monologues recounting similar events from different perspectives, each one delving deeper into the terrifying truth of the matter, each one delivered with individual expertise and character. Read more
December 11, 2005 (No Responses)
THIS IS ONE OF my favourite theatres in Dublin, if not Ireland. The Gate theatre down on Parnell Square holds many great memories for me and is one my favourite places to see plays in Dublin. Last night, SusiQ and I went to see A Christmas Carol there and I have to say it was fantastic. It’s expertly staged with a very minimalist approach and the cast do a great job of keeping things moving along for each of the set changes. Overall i defy anyone to not be at least a bit enchanted by this play, no matter how much of a humbug you may usually be.
Barry McGovern does a wonderful job as the central Scrooge character but for me, Stephen Brennan was just a show stealer when he appeared as the ghost of Christmas present. We kicked off the evening with a fab pre-theatre meal over at Chapter One but be warned, this year they have done away with the option to return for desert after the show in favour of more seating pre-show… but the food was terriffic none the less. All in all, a great night out. I can highly recommend both the play and the restaurant.