In the Abbey, L 28, on behalf of DRAFF, opening night, 06/03/17.
A full house, recognisable people – well heeled and well connected, I imagine…
I was sure I’d turned off my phone but automatically went to check it again, caught myself - have faith the phone is off, even if it does somehow accidentally come on, it won’t have been my fault, and besides there is a very low chance that someone would ring me, at any time, full stop.
Later learnt that I had got a text to buy yoghurts, if it’s handy…
An impressive first minute, the sound, the light, the curtains.
Clowning and coordination
Mention of freedom – ‘don’t say that word’ a sudden reaction from Murfi character, seemed to be threatened, signified something, a possible clue?
Ahistorical – Ballyturk is a world where people talk and mock and gossip, a folkloric entity, situated outside of history. For me this limits the currency of the play’s significance, it becomes comedy.
I feel the Marxist model of history has served art pretty well, even if the practical implication has been far less successful – think Fassbinder, Godard, John Berger. These references aren’t that contemporary, maybe Liam Gillick, Francis Alys are more relevant. I don’t know, I am not an academic, am I? I like the quality of that integrity in the art, however I would never qualify as a Marxist myself. I signed up for the Socialists group on Societies day in college (UCG 1997). They came knocking the very next day, the landlady answered the door and said they got the wrong house and that was the end of that. But the influence of that meaningful structure say in Fassbinder’s Fear Eats the Soul pertains without the direct knowledge of the little red book.
In contrast, Ballyturk seems a work of fancy.
I could accept the deus ex machina because Olwyn Fouéré has noticeable presence and a change in rhythm was welcome (often manic pace), but dramaturgically it was justified to effect tragedy. Her intervention brings knowledge that threatens the fantasy world that Murfi and Murphy have built up. These innocents learn about finitude and a sense of the reality of other people enough for change to happen. However an air of convenience hangs. Because the awareness is delivered extrinsically we are asked to accept something that’s not earned by the characters. They learn retrospectively – repressed memory seeps out and the moment of some trauma (the Real?*) is impressively rendered. The play’s integrity is in being true to these two characters’ need for play. This premise was impressively mined through a surprising modulation of the action. However, because the philosophy felt like an afterthought, the philosophy felt like an afterthought.
The lights, sound, set, situation, acting, writing and direction was impressive. It would want to be, fully funded and on the national stage. The play ended and got a rousing response. I crossed the street, walked past other people, it was starting to get dark, I waited for the green man, crossed O’Connell street, decided to walk by the Liffey.
Google ‘the Real, Lacan’ and maybe ‘Žižek’ if you’re feeling lucky. If anything, the search itself for understanding that term, the ‘Real’ with a capital R, might give you sense of the trauma it tries to describe.
Martin for DRAFF
Ballyturk, written and directed by Enda Walsh (a Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival’s co-production in association with the Abbey Theatre), runs until the 11th March. Image: Patrick Redmond.
Posted: 8th March 2017