Sometimes, when theatre is successful in a small intimate space and then transfers to a larger venue, you have doubts that the transition will be successful and those type of concerns bothered me as I returned to see a now double-bill by Stagemad Theatre Company of Adam Wallace’s beautiful Catch The Wind and Anna Jordan’s poetic, Misery.
Sometimes you wonder if the work will still sustain the initial buzz of discovery. Catch The Wind, and the acting of author Adam Wallace, just got better and bigger in the better space, where lighting created a mood of memory, as music shapes time and sometimes a generation.
This is a young person’s play; a wonderful evocation of three generations of the Swann family, who may, or may not, be related to the Children Of Lir, as told by the almost naive son Kieran, who remembers with a poignant humour, the net of memory his father and grandfather are not so much lost in, as embedded, emeshed in.
Adam Wallace as actor/writer knows the magic of making up stories and making stories live in others’ hearts. Watching the exuberant physical performance of this excellent actor, I felt the veracity of theatre guru, Sanford Meisner’s definition of acting as – living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Wallace lived the part and he enabled the audience to live it again as I, for a brief sad while, remembered my own father, who died back in the early seventies. Adam Wallace looks the audience in the face and says – I love you Dad, I wish I could say it to your face. Wallace has a great future before him as he continues to confront audiences with their own inner truths and imaginations.
Misery, by Anna Jordan, is a short and overly poetic, thin-slicing of memory over an undefined period of time as a couple meet again to restore or renew pain on a secret place on Mount Misery, overlooking the city. The larger space posed more problems than it solved and sometimes lapsed into inaudibility. Her costume seemed ill-fitting and wrong, while the boy was right in white shirt and pants. Songs form part of the internal memory of this play too but I kept thinking of Emmylou Harris’ Stumble into Grace. Anna Jordan wrote the play and acted the part of the girl in the contrasting style of new guru on the block, Michael Kirby, who defines acting as – to feign, to stimulate, to represent, to impersonate… to pretend to be in a time or place different than that of the spectator. Jordan does not want the audience to dwell on where the heart stumbles but where it lands, but for me the stumble is the play, the heart of the matter.
But Jordan’s dense, bramble-like poetic style, contained some beautiful images like – the moon balancing itself on the River Suir or Everybody is somebody’s child and the hopefully, not too prophetic – that the young accept that life is never going to be what we expect.
Ah sweet bird of youth and expectancy. I had expected that with Martin Cullen as Arts Minister, that Stagemad would have received a starter or challenge grant this year from the Arts Council. They may as well try and catch the wind.
Do not forget to support another fine Waterford-born playwright, Liam Heylin, whose excellent witty and gritty play, Love, Peace And Robbery, is in Garter Lane Thursday 29th January, for one night only, on a national tour with Meridian.
I reviewed this play back in 2007, when it premiered in Cork, and since then the famous Keegan Theatre from Washington, gave it a four week run last December, as well as a Manhattan festival run.
The play is about petty criminals, who rotate in an out of prison and want to end this cycle of crime and punishment. Heylin works as a journalist in Cork covering thousands of criminal court cases, which gives this fine play a glorious reality.