I’ve fallen in and out of love with Druid’s work over the years. I’m not overly fond of the Stage Oirish genre even if it’s written tongue in cheek by Martin McDonagh. Having seen ‘Whistle in the Dark’, one of the Druid Murphy productions during the Dublin Theatre Festival a few years ago, four of us were compelled back to the capital for the remaining productions. I’ll openly admit I haven’t a clue what Beckett is about, so much so that at one particular production I genuinely didn’t know if the play was over at the interval or if there was another act. However, Druid’s recent tour of ‘Waiting for Godot’ was in the words of its reviews: ‘Exceptional . . . miraculous . . . a welcome reinvention . . .a must-see.’ Most people will associate Druid with its founding actors like Mick Lally and Marie Mullen but it’s the new crew over the past decade that has been drawing me in namely Aaron Monaghan, Rory Nolan and Gorey’s very own Garrett Lombard.
Furniture by Sonya Kelly, Druid Theatre Company
Kelly doesn’t follow the conventional three-act structure of the Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution. Instead, Furniture presents us with three unconnected two-hander vignettes on a minimal but stylish set, cleverly adapted for each scene.
“Told through the lives of six individuals, this fresh comedy looks at how the things we own shape our worldview and even ourselves.”
In Scene One, we meet a married couple at the opening of an art exhibition to which the artist husband is on the fringe. A simple pedantic phrase ‘don’t touch’ by the husband [“I have entangled myself with a woman who beeps”], sparks an unraveling that makes the art world, intellectual snobbery, economic dependency, lack of appreciation and communications as its ammunition for this very ill-suited couple to hurl at each other. The writing is perfect, comedic timing and delivery immaculate by two very accomplished actors, the scene’s only downfall was the predictably untouchable ending.
In Scene Two, in the throws of passion after a brief online affair, Stef, a proponent of minimalist design (preferably “mid-century Danish”), has invited scruffy hoarder Dee to move in. “You know when you know,” they reassure each other repeatedly, the chemistry unmistakeable until Dee unpacks her belongings. A purple La-Z-Boy recliner is their undoing with punchy one-liners bouncing between neurotic Stef and hippy Dee. If I could write just one of those volleys in my lifetime, I’d die happy. I found Ruth McGill’s ‘Dee’ pantominesque. Her arms and legs seemed to swing out of control in a sort of physical Tourette’s and at odds with her highly informed and compassionate character. The ham crescendoed in the final scene as the ‘stoned’ Dee theatrically falls asleep. After a long and undistinguished career as a pot smoker, I can testify that there is no such theatrics as the stoner drifts to unconsciousness only to wake in the exact same position several hours later.
In the final scene, we meet a rugger bugger solicitor trying desperately to corral a flamboyant older gay man to put his estate in order as he nears his end. Playing cat and mouse, we see two men at their most vulnerable hiding behind belongings and their stories primarily a pink chaise longue that “once belonged to Danny La Rue. Barbra Streisand sat on it. Rudolph Nureyev sat on it… Judy Garland passed out on it.” It’s the performance of Niall Buggy’s life evenly matched by the straight-laced Lombard. Hilarious and heartfelt, the writing doesn’t disappoint and is the perfect finale to an evening that takes a sharp look at how we live and die.
Furniture is on a National tour, you won’t be disappointed. Be prepared to laugh a lot.
[Feature photo © Stephen Cummiskey].
Theatre was my first love. It all started with the One-Act and 3-Act AmDram festivals in our local theatre to get out of the house to smoke cigarettes on school nights. It wasn’t long before I had graduated onto the Class As in the Abbey, Peacock, Project, Tivoli and even more fringe events and locations. It’s physical. Being present with the cast, the crew, the soundscape of mutters, coughs, and gasps from the audience; the dust, the set, the murmur murmur hum before curtain. Pure energy. I can forgive anything — set, direction, costumes, props, performance — except bad writing.
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