Hound, at the Forum, manages to tell an Irish fable and a legend or two in a modern multi-media way with pre-video images as a backdrop and a lot of technical wizardry that impresses more than it gets in the way in what is essentially a very static tableaux telling of flawed superhero Cuchullain and the Brown Bull of Cooley.
What is so impressive is that the devisor/director, JOHN GRUBB, managed to turn his ambition into a fine reality from the Ulster Cycle of Stories. And that he managed to raise significant money and the help of imaginative technical people to make so excitingly real, a tale as old as time. Such stories of their nature, when set on stage, are going to be static and actors have to declaim epic dialogue and give it meaning. Danny O’Dwyer gave it a cohesive visual design, Clare Horgan was responsible for the overall production look (Production Design) with exciting and sexy costumes but why orange Guantanamo shorts for superheros. Jamie Beamish composed a clever soundscape without too much reference to Riverdance and Andy Cummins gave it a modern punchy lighting design. The effects were excellent with pyro showers and flashes and never did I think the work descended into panto or camp. Brian Macbeth did wonderful body painting designs and Lindsay Dower was excellent as Make-up Artist.
We rightly praise Waterford performers but we also have a highly motivated team of technical people who have creative ideas too.
The production had four dancers – Megan deCoursey, Rachel Cody, Hazel Rae and Vicki Sheridan. Lynsey Penkert and Ciara O’Connor impressed as singing Court Maids, who added another fine layer to John Grubb’s concept. Daniel Tynan was Young Ferdia. Jordan O’Regan was Young Hound and Alex Brennan was a beautiful Young Emer.
Michael Quinlan was a suitable Laeig with a great declaiming voice. Jenny Clooney was a scary Scathes. Shauna Farrell was Emer and Paul Barry looked splendid as Fergal.
Jamie Murphy gave substance to Hound and excelled in a rain effect when the stage was very slippery (Probably the only time an effect was overdone). James O’Sullivan was a menacing Ferdia who caught the conflict of the friendship so well.
Clodagh Power was powerful and excellent as the dark clothed Aide and her tussle with Hound was sexy and dramatic.
But stars of the evening were the comic relief on a big golden bed that rolled down the centre aisle with Joe Meagher as a bored Aillie eating in bed while Anna Jordan shone with menace and red lipstick as Medb. Her scene, when she was being dressed by servants, was excellent.