Let me start by saying that this was the first production I have ever seen in The Gaiety Theatre. The theatre itself is stunning. Beautiful architecture, design and an incredible feeling of being apart of something fabulous as soon as you walk in contributes to your initial of awe of the Gaiety. It's just what comes with an old theatre I think. The unfortunate side effect of a beautiful old theatre is the sight lines (especially during this production). If you have not been so fortunate to get seats in the stalls or lower balcony, you will (almost without a doubt) be struggling to see the entire performance. So many of the scenes in this production took place quite far downstage that you were leaning forward trying to get a glimpse and thus ruining the sight lines for those behind you, who now couldn't see over your head.
The script had been adapted from James Joyce's The Dubliners, which included 9 out of 15 of the stories. For me I felt the stories hadn't been adapted enough for the stage as most of the characters still spoke in 3rd person. This view however may be partly because I haven't read the stories in many years and needed the characters interactions to pull me through the stories. The script being almost entirely narration meant most of the characters spoke in 3rd person which resulted in the audience being detached emotionally from the characters. This made the production feel more like a staged reading than an actual play.
I did however find some of the performances quite griping such as Mark O'Halloran in "An Encounter". His physicality was brilliant and resulted in the whole audience being connected, captivated and responsive with laughter. This was a much needed boost to the pacing. Mark Lambert's portrayal of Mr. Alleyne in "Counterparts" was extremely successful. His characterization was so strong and with his over the top performance- chicken influences and all, it gave such a significant contrast to the severity of the ending that it really brought a depth of character and even believability to an exaggerated persona. This was well done. In addition to these, Mark O'Halloran gave another strong performance in "A Painful Case" bringing affective intentions where you could see his personal struggle in the relationship between Mr Duffy and Mrs. Sinico.
In regards to the design, which always particularly speaks to me; I was so looking forward to the make-up. From the posters and press packs it seemed to exude exaggeration and characterization. The particular eyebrow, chin & cheek forms that were created, I had hoped would greatly affect the characters and the audiences decisions in regards to them. It was however so hard to tell from the audience what was happening, that the effect was lost. Yes, I was sitting quite far back however I heard the same critique from friends sitting in the stalls: that though the make up were supposed to be character choices, it was not strong enough to be communicated past the first 10 rows. This was definitely a disappointment. Otherwise I felt the costumes were consistent and clear choices for the characters. The lighting posed no probelm with the costumes and held a significant importance as it helped to create definition on a wide open stage as well as set many of the scene locations.
This was a show that would be best viewed up close and to make sure you are well versed in James Joyce's stories before attending. Overall the Corn Exchange took on a huge challenge by adapting stories that had such high expectations that they really do deserve applause for taking chances in a world of theatre that so often plays it safe.
I am originally from Vancouver, Canada but I made the big move to Ireland in September 2012. I work in a design & buying office called Styletex and want to work towards a career in Buying. My degree is in Costume Design which is my first love but my heart is also in production design, theatre, fashion, history, culture and style. I love seeing the world and I may have a small obsession with weddings and bridal fashion- so visit my other blog: http://unveilthis.blogspot.com to see that side of me.