Creators: Eszter Nemethi &Nuno Escudeiro
Director: Eszter Nemethi
Reviewer: Ciara L Murphy
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
Utopia Ltd. aims to promote the idea of a better world. Naive or not, several activists take to the atmospheric surroundings of the Poolbeg Marina at the heart of Dublin’s port to do just that. Unfortunately the production does little to live up to its aims or surroundings, instead presenting an immature and bracingly self-indulgent show.
The youngest activist and cast member Siofra Richardson quotes that famous Samuel Beckett quote which appears at the top of this review. She quotes this in reference to the show’s prior run at the Cork Midsummer Festival, where she states most of the audience left “without anything nice to say”. Richardson touts the bravery of recognising failure, and the achievement of trying again despite this. This reviewer feels that some more careful consideration could have gone into ensuring that this time the ensemble did not in fact fail again with this offering.
The setting is simple, and at first glance intriguing. The audience are supplied with blankets and asked to take a seat upon a cluster of orange school chairs outside on the cusp of the harbour wall. The soundscape is that of Dublin’s busy industrial port and adds an authenticity to the piece’s introduction. The show however starts as it means to go on with the cast members delivering their lines (or are they meandering soliliquays?) clumsily and without any sense of authority. The sound design and AV design is inconsistent with several apparent mishaps. The story, which is meant to centre around Roger Casement, is pepetually hard to fathom. One gets the sense that the audience are an unwilling witness to a conversation taking place between five contemporarys and at a programmed 80 minute duration (but this show ran twenty minutes over) it was in fact 70 minutes too long.
There is a bravery in continuing with a theatrical project despite prior failings but there is also a maturity in recognising when something does not work. This production aimed to hit on key social issues from a variety of cultural perspectives but instead manifested in self-indulgent ranting without providing any answers or any solid theatrical offering.
A disppointing performance.
Runs until 25 September as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival | Image: Jannek Pietzch