Caomhan Keane's Top 10 Theatre Performances of 2012
Michael Caine once said; 'I'm a skilled, professional actor. Whether I have any talent is beside the point." While there are plenty of actors who work regularly in this country and keep the audience and critics cooing, the ones that do well by their craft are the ones that use their performance to add to the life force of a play. Not use it as a weapon to pull plaudits down upon themselves. The actors praised here managed to remember that they have a responsibility to the playwright's intent. That a part isn't a series of big moments but a journey they must make an audience experience . They don’t just give us fireworks but show us what sets them off. Theatre should be a transforming experience and, for me, these are the performers who best shaped my world in 2012.
A Doll House
While her almost maniacal front fit the whimsy of this plays earlier scenes , Judith Roddy's deliberate delivery of Nora's climatic moments- spoken flat on her back, bathed in light, as if the characters were in an isolation tank, made me connect with the power of Ibsen's message and the clarity of her characters epiphany like few mountings of the classic text have done before. Her pretence and intense energy slipped away and in her stillness you felt her resolution.
Jonathan Gunning and Miquel Barceló
Honesty, commitment and focus are essential tools in an actors amour, never more so than when they are attempting comedy and particularly when working with children. Gunning and Barcelo unleashed all three when playing toddlers in this bi-lingual piece for babies. When combined with their remarkable gesticulation and facial dexterity they delivered performances that made adults laugh -uproariously, out loud.
Linehan savours each morsel of dialogue she's given as Mrs Malins, extracting every lick of flavor from her amuse bouche part to make it the best dish in the buffet.
He may have broken from the text in this poorly cast take on the Scottish play, but he spun comic gold as the drunken night porter, corpsing and cursing his way about the stage and showing the potential for call and response interplay with the groundlings.
Aaron Heffernan and Eoghan Quinn
When playing with fantasy you’re playing with fire as you need to create an other worldliness to your performance without losing the truth. In multiple parts Heffernan and Quinn's belief in what they were doing made you see what they wanted you to, got you to give over your emotions to their wonderful puppets and made them live. As conduits to the magic of live theatre, they brought something back that might have been lacking for many of us used to stewing in more erudite fare.
Kathy Rose O Brien
Alice in Funderland
Few shows divided so many as THISISPOPBABY’s electro pop spectacle Alice in Funderland. One thing that united the masses was how it was, for the most part, well cast. The star turn came via Katy Rose O Brien. She wrapped her Twink-like demeanour like a tourniquet around each role and shot them full of her gleeful malice, tart timing and a genuine delight to be playing such fantastic characters. A great performer can make such enthusiasm infectious and every moment she spent on that stage was memorable for the right reasons.
Death of the Tradesmen
It was humbling to observe how playwright Shaun Dunne captured- so humanely, the pride that accompanied the fall of so many breadwinners in this country. He was well matched by his leading actress whose frayed patience and repeated refrains never grated thanks to the sadness and frustration Larkin, mature beyond her years, brought to her role as wife and daughter.
Was there more tender a moment shared on the Irish stage this year than when Methven's Mrs DeBurca turned and asked her spinster daughter if she had a secret lover? Such loaded moments, full of longing, hope and embarrassment were what made The House so powerful and so tragic. Her dismissive yet empathetic treatment of her daughters was one of the most apt portrayals of motherhood I have ever seen on stage while her final confrontation with Declan Conlon's Christy was a heartbreaking study in unconditional love.
We become so enamoured with Louise Lowe's invigorating and mind altering work that we sometimes forget that it would not have been as effective without the chilling performances of her players, who so successfully blur the line between our own realities and the world she's created.
Aaron Monaghan and Marty Rea
A Whistle in the Dark
There are plenty of actors who can dazzle you with their presence and technique, but very few that can make you forget yourself. There were moments during Druids visceral production of Tom Murphy's 1961 play that I forgot to breathe for fear Monaghan's Harry turn on me and savage me with home truths. The empathy Marty Rea earned was used to shame me when his true nature was torn out of him and the unrelenting rage that rose in both characters, the goading, flailing fury left me utterly destroyed by curtain down. From the very off both actors dragged me into their current and drowned me in conflicting emotions, pulling me under before spitting me out, as I struggled to get a grip on what I was telling myself and what I knew to be true. I was never conscious of anything other than the battle being waged before me, between brothers and principles, not performers, and that’s because both Rea and Monaghan were so totally absorbed in the honesty of the playwrights words that nothing but that felt could be felt.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Friday 4th January 2013 | Theatre
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