Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The New Electric Ballroom: Irish Theatre Company Scores a Hit

I was introduced to Irish playwright, Enda Walsh, through the production of his play, bedbound by MacKenzieRo, The Irish Repertory Theatre of Canada. I like the dirty, grimy, grimly funny, play about two characters stuck in a bed, sharing their lives with the audience. There’s just something about Walsh’s unflinching look at the lives of the downtrodden that draws me in. I felt satisfyingly wrung out by the end of bedbound, starring Richard Greenblatt and MacKenzieRo co-founder, actress, Cathy Murphy; at the end of The New Electric Ballroom, I felt bleakly content.

The play features, Cathy Murphy (Ada), and Dora Award winners, Rosemary Dunsmore (Breda), and Sarah Dodd (Claire) as sisters living in a tide-brown Irish fishing village in a dishwater-coloured house that they rarely leave. Unable to let go of the past, Breda and Claire have relentlessly inoculated their younger sister, Ada, against loving and living. The three are caught in a world and a house that recycles fear and stunts communication among them. Director, Autumn Smith has confidently captured the discordant harmony of the sisters and brings out the best in her more than competent female leads. Murphy, Dunsmore and Dodd play off one another like a strident trio of brass players spewing Walsh’s gritty, poetic dialogue with just the right note. Even in their individual silences their energies are connected by an ambient chord.

Dora-nominee, Christopher Stanton (who is also the plays sound director), is the lone male in the piece. A rambling, socially deficient, fishmonger, Stanton’s character, Patsy, is the tragic-comic break the audience needs after listening to the dismal recollections of the distaff household. Stanton’s boyish face, and the slumped, closed-in posture he adopts for his character makes the audience want desperately for Patsy to fit into the sisters’ world. Unfortunately for Patsy, though he belongs in the hopelessly bound world of the sisters’, like a jigsaw piece being forced to connect in the wrong space, he will never quite fit.

The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh
October 8th-24th 2010
Opening: Friday, October 8 at 8PM
Performances: Monday to Saturday at 8PM Sunday matinee: 2:30 PM
Tarragon Extra Space 30 Bridgman Avenue
Tickets: $26, Sundays PWYC Box Office: 416-531-1827 tickets.tarragontheatre.com

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