Devised by: Breffni Holohan and Dylan Coburn Gray
Director: Claire O’Reilly
Reviewer: Saoirse Anton
Malaprop’s Jericho, performed by Maeve O’Mahony is described as “A fresh, entertaining and up-to-the-minute response to current world events.”The audience is brought into a discussion of the challenges of living in a digital, consumerist world, through the eyes of a journalist working on a story about wrestling, and is invited to question the line (if such a line exists) between entertainment and politics. However, though it raises interesting points, the production appears to have suffered somewhat from trying to be too up-to-the-minute, leaving a work that, at times, feels like an underdeveloped collection of ideas. The script comes across as fragmented and disjointed; there are some very strong segments portraying interpersonal relationships on and off-line, but equally there are segments that verge on the didactic or polemic.
Strengthening the production’s discussion of the dissemination and consumption of information and the legitimacy of online presence, both the direction and design employ consistently effective use of distancing techniques. From the distortion of O’Mahony’s voice in certain segments, to her interaction with recorded material and with the audience and tech; the lines between construction, performance and reality are constantly blurred and challenged. This is supported by a clever, adaptable set designed by Molly O’Cathain, which makes the most of the small space of the Powerscourt Centre Theatre and makes it seem considerably larger than it is. Similarly, the projection onto many different parts of the set, props, and on to O’Mahony herself creates a depth to the space and adds to the questions around what constitutes reality.
The use of the lens of the wrestling world, where the understanding of what is real and pretend and what is and is not acceptable in terms of entertainment is distorted. This is an interesting frame for examining the current situation in society where politics and entertainment collide and transform each other on our screens. However, the production sometimes loses its focus, and the strong dramatic techniques mentioned previously are undermined and at times sacrificed in favour of sweeping statements and speeches that speak of hope but fail to provide any. Perhaps Jericho is a chaotic piece of theatre for a chaotic world, but at times it feels a little too much like a work in progress rather than a developed, cohesive production.
Runs until 4 March 2017 | Image: Carla Rogers