Saturday, December 24, 2005

Top Five of 2005

It’s time to point fingers at stuff that was bloody good.

Bloody Sunday: Scenes from the Saville Enquiry
Describe the best piece of theatre of 2005? Well, it involved lots of Leaver Arch Files, some PostIt notes, plenty of filing cabinets, and many, many annotated diagrams. Richard Norton-Taylor and London’s Tricycle Theatre continued their “Verbatim Theatre,” project (a fiendish plot to make drama out of the impenetrable findings of various public inquiries) with an astounding distillation of the Saville Inquiry. Where the inquiry, as usual, managed to create a great, foggy plume of information – thereby remaining reliably useless – Norton-Taylor filtered the testimony into a couple of hours of theatre. The result was an indelible sense of what was happening in Derry on that Sunday in 1972, as well as an equally indelible sense of a variety of moral and emotional power that only live theatre possesses.

The Bull
After startling everyone by creating Giselle, a contemporary dance show that smashed its way out of that particular ghetto, Michael Keegan-Dolan must have felt the steamy breath of the heard breathing down his neck as he premiered his latest theatre-dance/dance-theatre show, The Bull. Happily, for everyone who grappled for a ticket, Keegan-Dolan came up with the goods, a show that leveraged the talents of singers, dancers and even legit actors, to create a show that was massive, muscular, poetic, moving and hilarious: a rare joint.

The Goat (Or Who Is Sylvia?)
Bryan Murray’s return to the Irish stage also ushered in a brutal, unflinching late play from veteran American dramatist, Edward Albee. The Goat (Or Who Is Sylvia) is about sounding the limits of love, and the limits of community, with the help of a smart New York family whose architect patriarch has an undying, carnal passion for the eponymous goat, Sylvia. A great production, directed by Michael Caven, with some top-drawer performances from Murray and company, made for as startling and disturbing an evening as the year had to offer.

As ever on the hungry hunt for new voices, Fishamble turned up one Gary Duggan, the kind of bone fide storyteller that 2005 found in short supply. Duggan’s play Monged took on the no-sleep-till-Cabra lifestyle with a deft even-handedness, lyrically revelling in “mad” nights out, while at the same time filleting all moronic excess. A writer. What more do you want?

Lost in A Flurry of Cherry Blossoms / Just For Show
For joint runners-up we have a lushly costumed Japanese allegory of I’m-not-quite-sure-what and a British dance show that was at best when its images were projected. (Guess which was which?) Both shows existed just beyond whatever is easy to digest, but both turned being baffling and perplexing into a beautiful competitive advantage.


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