Monday 18 November 2019

Repeat after me: I tweet, you tweet, he tweets...

I was always quite sceptical of all these social networking thingies -- Facebook, MySpace et al -- until doing something for work saw me signing on to Twitter and realising that this, at least, is a very useful tool in our profession.

So I had an interest in #TwitterOnTrial, a documentary on RTE Radio 1. And yes, that's how you're obliged to write it, with the big noughts-and-crosses thing at the start and everything.

This was the brainchild of Pat O'Mahony, who can generally be relied on to produce quirky, interesting programmes. He drew together a bunch of Twitterers -- including Ireland cricket captain Trent Johnson, former Green senator Dan Boyle, and Jennifer O'Connell of online news service -- and set them a variety of tasks.

The aim: to explain how Twitter actually works, and investigate how useful it really is in finding out information, networking, organising nights out and so on. The result: a jolly enjoyable radio show. I'm not sure I learned much I didn't already know, but they were a nice bunch to spend time with.

Forty-Seven Roses by Peter Sheridan was the Sunday Playhouse choice (also on Radio 1), and there were two things I didn't like about it. First, it was a monologue, which I've always considered rather to be cheating.

A monologue is closer, artistically and dramatically, to a book with a first-person narrative than a play, and radio drama often takes this easy way out. It's one person reeling out the story, recounting the incidents and retelling the dialogue, literally and metaphorically inhabiting others' voices. Let's have some proper interaction between different characters, played by different actors, please.

The second problem was more profound. Does anyone really care any more about these memoirs of life in "dirty ould Dubbalin" during the 1950s and '60s? (I suppose you could ask, if you were feeling mean, did anyone ever care?)

They all incorporate the same, familiar conventions. The gruff but sentimental working-class, rough good-humour, nostalgia for the past, family spats that are amusing and never too serious. And finally, a seeming obsession with television.

I think every play I've ever encountered about Dublin in the '60s centres on someone watching or getting a TV. Forty-Seven Roses does too. I switched off.

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