Friday, 12 December 2008

Review: "The Dreamers of Inishdara"

Sometimes you see a listing and the description just clicks: An Irish country setting, a concept reminiscent of Stardust, and a legendary lady in the cast. And sometimes, the execution just fails it completely.

Leanah Dubh (Gemma-Leah Davreux) is a half-fairy postmodernist painter (a la Jackson Pollock) with a migraine: separated from the Irish land she falls weak, dependent on stranger Crow Murphy to get her home safe. Once recovered, Leanah needs Crow to leave - and fast. Her saintly landlord’s evil brother (Peter Dunne as Brian Quigley type Dick Branigan) has barred men from the premises and will evict her if one is found. Matters are complicated by the arrival of a space-case leprechaun (Patricia Quinn in fine form) who informs Leanah that she is to marry the Fairy King - a daunting proposition.

There’s a lot going for the play: the characters (minus an uncomfortably out of place parish priest) are interesting, and the story was interesting and well paced.

And then things start going wrong. Much of the dialogue could have been scripted for fantasy LARPers, and while green themes are hot, the constant reminders of Irish natural beauty are overdone. Accent troubles also abounded, particularly from Mr. Dunne who wandered between Ballykissangel Irish and Rupert Murdoch Australian and Stephen Elliot MacDonald who to my ears sounded Scottish instead of country Irish. The appearance of an English bulldozer driver at the end whose sole purpose was to finalise Dick’s redemption, was awkward and a waste of an ensemble member. And then there’s the higher than average Fringe ticket price, rivalling those of professional pantos.

I don’t want to imply that The Dreamers of Inishdara is horrible or a wasted night out - it’s absolutely not - but the play feels like a work in progress at this state and could benefit from some time with a dramaturge. It’s also a difficult work to judge because it’s right on the border of “family play” and “adult play” and my expectations vary between the two. It’s (mostly) entertaining and (mostly) well acted and an intimate and choice, but with so much family fare up and running this time of year, The Dreamers of Inishdara is likely to find itself dreaming of full houses rather than being blessed with them.

Where: Jermyn Street Theatre
When: Until 13 Dec. 08, 19:30 PM, Sa @ 15:30
How Much: £22
Concessions: £16
RZ Unofficial “Worth Paying”: £13.50 (Half price plus TKTS fee)
RZ Other Notes: Yeah. I booked this to see Patricia Quinn, who did not disappoint. Even from the next to back row, this is likely to be the most intimate setting one will see this legendary lady perform in.

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