Writer: Dylan Coburn Gray
Director: Claire O’Reilly
Reviewer: Saoirse Anton
We interact differently to how we did just a couple of decades ago; the internet has changed how we get to know people, it has changed how we communicate. BlackCatfishMusketeer is a show about this, about people getting to know each other online, however, it is no “tsk young folks and their smart phones” show. This production explores how two people communicate when they have nothing but their words to commend themselves to each other, how they connect, how they show off, and how they get to know each other.
Man (Ste Murray) and Woman (Catherine Russell) chat about starfish, IT, past relationships, and a great deal about the problem of induction. While the discussions can, at times, be somewhat cold, alienating the characters from the audience, they also raise intriguing questions and ideas. The addition of the character of IT (Aoife Spratt), personifying the medium through which the characters are speaking, goes some way towards mediating and mitigating the effects of the distance created between the characters and the audience. Ever sharp and electric, IT builds the setting of the online chat as well as providing entertaining and engaging commentary with dry humour and wit. They almost seem a more human character, breaking the fourth wall and delighting in the unexpected and incongruous. Even though the other two characters are on stage acting out their story, it is almost as though IT is the one recounting the story, taking props out of boxes, steering the direction of the piece and seizing the stage to have the final word.
Molly O’Cathain’s set takes this sense of carefully building a conversation with someone online and manifests it in a collection of boxes and images of filing cabinets. Playing with levels and versatile props, her design plays a similar role to IT, breaking a sense of realism and reminding the audience of the limitations and possibilities of the medium through which Man and Woman are communicating.
Though it does at times lose itself in dense blocks of detached dialogue, BlackCatfishMusketeer is an intriguing and thought-provoking production that is not afraid to ask and answer difficult questions while having a lot of fun along the way.
Runs until 24 September as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival | Image: Molly O’Cathain