REVIEW: Being Miss Ross by Aidan Harney

Reviewed by By Denis Kehoe, Gay Community News, 9th May 2005

b_BeingMissRoss-L  b_BeingMissRoss-SBeing Miss Ross is a work in progress by Aidan Harney, whose last play, A Monarch in Hollywood, was read at the 2004 Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. His latest work is a play within a play, the plot of which revolves around Dublin’s oldest gay cafe, where a play about Diana Ross and the Supremes is being staged to save the place from imminent closure.

Owner Gary and waiter Daniel are joined in their endeavours by faded small time actress Binki, transgender Annie, wacky upper-class flake Sorcha, Zimbabwean immigrant Hondo, and handsome, homeless Connor. We are taken from the initial auditions right up to the opening night of the play, which doesn’t go quite as well as expected, and ends in a hilarious farce where reality and illusion collide, and everybody ends up playing somebody else’s role.

There is a huge amount going on in Being Miss Ross, and it is a testament to Aidan Harney’s writing that he manages to keep all balls in the air for the length of the play. The work is described as a comedy, and while it is wonderfully funny, it is much more than that. Harney has his finger on the pulse of contemporary Dublin life, and the city he portrays is a cold, bitchy, pretentious place, obsessed with things as inconsequential as paninis. It is a city of one-night stands, marital infidelities, casual racism, discrimination against the transgender population, and scathing attitudes towards homelessness and illiteracy.

If the Dublin he shows up is a callous, indifferent place, then the production these unlikely marginalized misfits become involved in acts as a counter to such a society. As rehearsals progress and tempers fray, so too barriers are broken down and stereotypes exploded apart. For all its laughs, Being Miss Ross is  a socially engaged and very serious play that tackles some very thorny issues in contemporary Ireland. It does so in an intelligent way that never slips into bland moralising, saccharine sentimentality or dullness.

Given the fact that the piece is a work in progress, was staged without a set or props, and that the actors only had two days rehearsals before taking the stage, the job they did was incredible. It had a raw immediacy and vitality to it, theatre stripped down to its essentials, something which can be hard to find in more polished productions. The cast are well chosen and uniformly excellent. Graham Singleton as the homeless young man Connor, both streetwise and vulnerable, was particularly good. Save for the fact that there are parts of Act III, when the production is being staged in the cafe, that are very confusing, I have very few bad things to say about the play. Well written, directed and acted, it is that rare thing in theatre, a play with a lot of head and a lot of heart.

I must also congratulate The George for putting on this imaginative, afternoon event, where tea and chocolate cake were the only excesses in sight.

 

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REVIEW: L’Amour Médecin (The Love Doctor) by Moliere

Reviewed by Danielle Malone, Gay Community News
This short play marks Wonderland Productions debut at the Gay Theatre Festival. The Love Doctor is a French play performed in English, and it celebrates fantasy, features hilarious costumes, and theatrical fun.

When the heroine of the play, Lucinde (Olivia Poyanne) falls terribly ill with an unexplained melancholy, her father, Sganarelle (Tim Dillard) swears to try absolutely everything in his power to find a cure for her. She admits after much persuasion that she is in love, and wishes to marry her sweetheart. Unfortunately for Lucinde, her over-bearing father will not hear of it, and vows to never give his blessing. Sganarelle wants to have his only daughter close to him, as well as his fortune, so he refuses to consent to her marriage.

Dillard brings a comic dimension to the play, and although he is the villain in the story, he is a lovable character, who connects with the audience almost immediately. This play tells the classic story of the controlling parent, who is ultimately lonely and afraid of losing their child. It is clear how much he loves his daughter, even though he is willing to sacrifice her future happiness for his own selfish reasons. In desperation, he calls for the services of three unscrupulous doctors with questionable credentials. The hapless father squirms and weeps bitterly at their gruesome theories on ‘treatment’. He still maintains, however, that he is willing to try almost any cure, so long as it does not involve giving away his daughters hand in marriage!

Despite the harsh ruling of her father, Lucinde refuses to give up on her wish to marry. The servants of the house have a plan afoot that will allow the love-struck couple to wed. The heroine’s lover enters the house under the watchful eye of her father, posing as an enthusiastic young doctor, and their scheme is set in motion. The couple attempt to seize their opportunity to be together, while trying to outwit the wily Sganarelle. The ensuing chaos that follows is a camp, comedic farce, with lots of laughs along the way.

 

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Being Miss Ross by Aidan Harney

b_BeingMissRoss-P Wonderland’s Artistic Director Alice Coghlan and acting company members collaborated with playwright Aidan Harney, in the script development and production of a rehearsed play reading of Being Miss Ross for The Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.

This musical comedy tells how the oldest gay cafè in Dublin is saved from closure, when the owner and a band of loyal customers get together to stage The Diana Ross Story fundraiser.

 

It had a raw immediacy and vitality to it, theatre stripped down to its essentials, something which can be hard to find in more polished productions. The cast are well chosen and uniformly excellent. Graham Singleton as the homeless young man Conor, both streetwise and vulnerable, was particularly good. Well written, directed and acted, it is that rare thing in theatre, a play with a lot of head and a lot of heart.

Denis Kehoe, GCN Magazine

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L’Amour Médecin by Jean Molière

b_LAmourMedecin-PWonderland Productions’ debut at the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is pure entertainment, a famous French farce, with all the decadence of the pre-revolutionary love doctors themselves. Expect big white wigs, coquettish sighs, and cross dressing lovers, as Molière’s heroine Lucinde falls mortally ill with an undiagnosed disease – Love. Song, dance and spectacle as Molière’s fun and fast farce, L’Amour Médecin, or The Love Doctor is presented in a modern Commedia dell’ Arte style.

A camp, comedic farce, with lots of laughs along the way.

Danielle Malone,  GCN Magazine

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Credits

Starring:
Tim Dillard as Scaganarelle, a merchant
Olivia Poyanne as Lucinde, his daughter
Alan Casey as Clitandre, her lover
Wallace Murphy-Munn as Lisette, a maid
Alan Casey as Dr. Macrotin
Domhnall O’Donoghue as Dr. Tomes
Martin Philips as Dr. Filerin
Other roles performed by members of the company

The Production Team
Director: Alice Coghlan
Producer: Gordon Gaffney
Design: Aisling Nic Eoin & Alice Coghlan
Stage Management: Emma Meehan

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Murmurous Silence

Murmurous Silence

MurMurous Silence was a co-production between Wonderland and As-If Productions from Taiwan for the 2004 Dublin Fringe Festival. It was inspired by the experience of the performer Hsin-I Lin’s mother during the Japanese colonisation of Taiwan and Taiwan’s subsequent fragile independence from China. MurMurous Silence was a theatrical experiment between Lin and sound artist An-Chih Tsai. Tsai’s 3D sound space interacted with giant shadow shows and Lin’s solo acting performance, so as to lead the audience through a journey of sensory experiences and personal memory.

As-If Productions are minting a nuanced vocabulary of performance.

Peter Crawley, The Irish Times

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The Company
Performer and Director: Hsin-I Lin
Sound Performance: An-Chich Tsai
Producer and Irish Liaison: Alice Coghlan (Wonderland Productions Ltd.)

 

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