Last night I was at the Mill Theatre watching Balally Player’s “Studio Shorts”. It featured 3 short pieces, “Small Box Psychosis” by Barry McKinley, “Bar And Ger” by Geraldine Aron and “The Phildephia” by David Ives.
I love visiting the theatre. I find it far more engrossing watching a play than watching a movie. You rarely get distractions by other audience members munching on overpriced junk food or teenagers texting (or calling!) on their mobile phones. But that aside, there is something wonderful watching actors perform in good pieces of theatre on stage. I always sit as close to the front as I can when visiting the theatre (in contrast to sitting near the back in the cinema!), the front row being ideal. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cinema, however watching a great actor in a great play on stage is far more rewarding and inspiring than watching a great actor in a great movie.
The theatre scene in Ireland has a massive divide between professional and amateur. Not in terms of talent, as the standard with many amateur actors and theatre groups in Ireland is high and often on par with the professional scene. But open a national newspaper and check the theatre listings and you will usually only see listings for the main national theatres which are out of reach for the majority of theatre groups. You’d also be forgiven for thinking that you had seen many of the listing performances before as the professional scene is often littered with rehashes of Irish plays amongst others. Granted the same can be said about many amateur groups, but perhaps I expect more, or indeed too much from the professional scene.
Nobody likes watching a bad play or a bad performance but no different to the movies, there are plenty of sub par performances in all walks of theatre life. Maybe its the high expectations or high ticket prices but when I experience poor performances in the professional scene, I often feel cheated. Couple that with a production that has been done to death, and well we would get into “walk out” terrority if it were cinema!
I enjoyed last night’s Studio Shorts overall. In particular I loved “The Philadelphia” which was directed by Brian Molloy who also starred in it. Performing alongside Brian was Sean Murphy and Claire O’Donovan. It’s a short piece at only 10 minutes but very clever and funny. The scene is set in what appears to be a New York restaurant in a ‘Twilight Zone’ styled universe. The performances were excellent and the accents were commendable!
“Bar And Ger” was directed by Gary Wall and Fiona Walsh. It starred Joe McCarthy and Aoibhinn Finnegan. It’s a simple story of the relationship between a brother and sister played out over their life. While I wasn’t particularly excited by the subject matter itself, the performances from Aoibhinn and Joe were excellent with the chemistry between the actors demonstrating some heart warming and touching moments and kept me engrossed throughout.
“Small Box Psychosis” was directed by Óran O’Rua and starred Sean T. Daly, Ronan Horgan and Pat O’Grady. It’s set in an elevator in New York that appears to break down and an off the wall plot ensues between a lawyer and 2 lift operators. An interesting piece, often funny although I felt the it was over long and could have done with edits in the script. That being said it was entertaining piece and in particular Sean did a good job of earning the empathy of the audience, which was important given what unfolds in the lift!
“Studio Shorts” runs in the Mill until the 25th Feb. You can visit Balally Player’s website here.