Writer: Enda Walsh
Director: Enda Walsh
Reviewer: Sarah Hoover
The Second Violinist produces a series of after-images both literal and figurative. Like a camera flash, it reappears for some time after its conclusion. In this contemporary opera written by Enda Walsh and composed by Donnacha Dennehy for Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera, the life of a protagonist who tortures and is tortured presents itself in flashes and glows both visual and audial.
Jamie Vartan’s set extenuates the relationships of the conjoined narratives playing out on it. First we are introduced to Martin’s (Aaron Monaghan), trailed by stage-sized texts and chased by voicemails referring to his recently failed relationship. We witness his invasive, violent attempts to start a new one. His app-chats with yet another persons build the tension, especially as they meet in Vartan’s looming overhead forest while Crash Ensemble, in the pit, frenetically score an ominous outcome. Meanwhile, Martin is an invisible and inadverdent spectator of a failing marriage between Matthew (Benedict Nelson) and Amy (Sharon Carty), as secrets and suffocation push at them and Amy sees a breath of life in her visiting college friend Hannah (Máire Flavin). Their strong voices, combined withoin sound and video design (David Sheppard, Helen Atkinson, and Jack Phelan) complement Crash Ensemble’s challenging, beautifully pastiched music in loading these scattered scenes with disjointed, media-saturated hysteria, predictably culminating in the murder of Amy by Matthew. This echoes the life of Carlo Gesualdo, the Renaissance composer Martin idolises, but repeats the over-used trope of violence against women as proof of an unstable artistic personality.
The scope of The Second Violinist provides room for the physical and vocal talents of its singers and actors to radiate in the O’Reilly Theatre (the use of the opera chorus demonstrates a complex understanding of sound in a space, for example). There is a reason for every decision made by designers, composer, director; it is clear that the entire audio-visual experience has been sculpted with great talent and skill. It is delightful to see a production with such scope produced by Irish talent on the Irish stage.
Runs until 8 October 2017 | Image: Contributed