DramaDublin Theatre FestivalIrelandReview

DUBLIN THEATRE FESTIVAL: The M House – axis :Ballymun, Dublin

Writer: Devised by Medb Lambert and Cast

Director: Medb Lambert

Reviewer: Ciarán Leinster

The M House may not necessarily be the most subtle piece of theatre, but there is no doubt that it is intelligent, perceptive, moving, and extremely heartfelt. It is also a piece of great social value, with the cast being comprised almost entirely of actors with intellectual disabilities. The audience of the opening night was also largely people with intellectual disabilities, marking this as an excellent example of theatre doing tangible good for its community.

The play begins with a board of directors, or VIPS, sitting at a table behind a semi-transparent black curtain. We learn that people live in houses according to the first letter of their names, each house having its own VIP, and it is time for the M House to promote from within – the Middlemanager is summoned to become a VIP, and is instantly dismissed. The play’s quick satire, on how faceless bureaucracies disregard the welfare of the people in their charge, surfaces repeatedly, as the inhabitants of the house are stopped from playing cards or doing yoga, and instead forced to watch mind-numbing TV, the audio of which is played on speakers.

The characters are moved to customised “MPods”, wherein the sense of community is eroded, in the name of efficient, modern living. A voice-over describing these new abodes is a pitch-perfect send-up of Silicon Valley tech jargon, but it is also entirely personal, as we see the effect this mode of thinking has on real people. Eventually, the characters escape, and journey to confront the board of the company who have controlled so much of their lives thus far.

This piece looks wonderful, as characters are constantly on the move, creating new environments with relatively few props. Shane Byrne as Michael is the star of the troupe, with extremely careful, clever movement used to full advantage, while Sighile Hennessy, playing Marcie, pulls off the best comedic set piece, as she resolves to drink a cup of tea while being measured by the Middlemanager.

This play is a superb example of what theatre can be at its best – genuine, serious, accessible, and part of a movement that is helping vulnerable members of society.

Runs until 9 October 2018 | Image: Contributed

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