Sunday 30 April 2017

Theatre: Eamon Carr’s verse play uses masks, music, song and dance to deliver a sweet ritualised meditation on regret

Theatre Review: Dusk, The New Theatre, Dublin

Dusk at The New Theatre, Dublin. Pic: Facebook
Dusk at The New Theatre, Dublin. Pic: Facebook

Katy Hayes

Aisling, a young beautiful girl, strays away from a party on the eve of her wedding to think things over. She is disturbed in her reverie by CúChulainn, or perhaps it is his ghost. The time is non-specific – CúChulainn’s costume is Celtic, Aisling’s contemporary; the setting is a ruined tower by a lake.

Eamon Carr’s verse play uses masks, music, song and dance to deliver a sweet ritualised meditation on regret. The ghost on the stage is CúChulainn, but the ghost in the script is William Butler Yeats. CúChulainn here is not the heroic icon of the schoolchildren’s stories, but a broken old man haunted by his past deeds, in particular his unwitting slaughter of his own son. He is tormented by the Morrigan, the spirit of war embodied by dancer Justine Doswell, with a spiky Japanese tinged dance.

Director Denis Conway, who also serves as a blind caretaker, gets super performances all round. Garrett Lombard plays the Irish mythological figure with great physical theatricality; his face half-covered by a mask, his voice transformed into a gravelly echo. Caoimhe Mulcahy is stunning as Aisling in a performance that is completely natural and convincing, as she picks her way through the rhymes and stylized drama.

Yeats is not fashionable as a playwright, and Carr is brave to embrace his legacy. But this sixty minutes of rich theatrical tapestry shows what can be done with Yeats’s ingredients, when it is underpinned by pure conviction and executed with high ambition.

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