DramaFringe & FestivalsIrelandReviewTiger Dublin Fringe Festival

TIGER DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: A Sinkhole in Guatemala, The New Theatre, Dublin

Writer and Director: Sarah Gordon

Reviewer: Liam Harrison

“A play is happening.”

We are told by the play’s writer, the playwright, Sarah Gordon. This is a play and she has written it. And as the writer, she knows what is going to happen. There is also an actor for the play, who we are reassured will be paid for her services. We are told the actor has only seen the script the night before, but she’ll do her best. From its beginning, wherever that might be, Sarah Gordon’s show possesses a charming reflexive quality, it toys with layers of improvisation, performance and meaning, while always slyly winking and nodding at the audience.

After the preamble on who’s who, a story of sorts takes place. The play tells a tale of a sinkhole found in a Guatemalan woman’s home, which she cannot get rid of. The story has the feel of a child’s fable, but one with a subtle dark streak, like a Jon Klassen hat story. The more the woman ignores the hole the more it consumes her worldly possessions, and eventually her entire world. A poignant moment interrupts the absurd tale in the shape of the woman’s son, who eventually realises he’s missed the signs which led to his mother’s diminishing life. Here the all-consuming hole takes on a brief but distinct shape of deteriorating mental health and wellbeing.

The story is interrupted by banana breaks, biscuit breaks and tea breaks. The actor herself seems bemused but slyly disinterested with the story, losing her place, wandering off for a drink or stopping the story to put on a coat, letting the playwright take charge of her own work. These meta-interruptions sum up the play neatly, they are subtly unsubtle, playful without being ingenious, warm and witty without being hilarious.

Despite the lack of much plot, drama or action (who needs them anyway, the play hints), the show still manages to be endearing. Pauses are exaggeratedly extended, jokes are knowingly repeated and Jaffa cakes are handed out. The show has an intimate feel, like being out with new friends you’ve always known but never met.

Gordon has fun with many typical tropes of drama and theory. The stage is scattered with latent symbolism – banana skins, a coke can, a bucket of silly string. But like the narrative’s eponymous hole, the potential meaning of these objects is indefinite – any analogy of what they might stand for is sunk and absorbed into a vast nothingness.

Runs until 24 September as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe | Image: contributed

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