Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Unexpectedly at short notice, the chance of a weekend in Dublin, staying with my friend Jenny Sweeney, author of Encounter Ireland. Jenny and I were college flatmates, so catching up is easy as falling off a bicycle. She takes me walking on the heathery hills of Howth, teaches me the knack of the Irish Times crossword; we search for cowries beside the taffeta sea of Dublin Bay, and for late orchids in the dunes of Dollymount, and the decades melt away.

And any visitor to the city has to see what's on at the Gate: “Everything gels perfectly” enthused the online write-up of the Noel Coward revival Present Laughter, so I had hopes of entertainment with an edge, and was half lucky. This production was indulgent on the eye in terms of set and costume, but a little too easy on the intellect by underplaying the psychological connections between this extensive cast. The result was slick wit but no emotional credibility, erotic energy, or real humanity. Stephen Brennan as Garry Essendine, the aging matinee idol, held the entire confection together compellingly, aided by Fiona Bell as his spiky secretary, and the laughter was indeed present. But the promised gel was missing in this series of tableau sequences, some of them voluptuous, some satiric, but never cohering enough for me to care by the end who went to bed with whom - or what happened to the hedonistic hero or anyone else in his ouroborotic coterie.
“All you ever do is pose in dressing-gowns,” Garry is challenged by Roland Maule (John Kavanagh, mangling the irony with buffoonery in this wasted role) “- you could be making people feel and think.” But why bother, when as the reviews all note: “The audience loved it!”

Stop Press News Frome writer Rosie Finnegan has heard from Bristol-based Writers' Block that her Sarah Siddons monologue has been accepted for production next Spring. Rosie says she was inspired by the '7 Ages of Shoes' monologue writing workshop and "You can quote me saying a big than you to you and Niamh!" which is jolly nice of her. She also says she's over the moon about it. So you should be, Rosie, it's a brilliant outcome for your first dramatic monologue.

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