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  • Chris O'Rourke

Reboot Live: Episode Four

Reboot Live: Episode Four. Image uncredited.

Medusa Untold/Finding Love in an Abattoir/The Lodge House

It's part of the terror and joy of live performance, especially when it comes to theatre. That not knowing what you have until you put it before a live audience. Ordinarily, previews and showcases can help reshape and redefine the work before opening night. But with Reboot Live 2020 there are no such luxuries. All of which racks up the tension. In Reboot Live: Episode Four we see the Goldilocks principle very much at work in another three new pieces. One which proves slightly underdone, one slightly overdone, and one cooked to near perfection.

Michelle Costello and Graham Coughlan in Medusa Untold. Image by Cate Reid.

Feeling just a tad underdone Medusa Untold, written and directed by Grace Kelley Fitzgerald, plays cleverly with the Peter at the pearly gates motif. Here a weary Medusa suffers the bureaucratic tediums of a decidedly Dublin Hermes as she seeks admission to the underworld. Frequently emphasising that you should never shoot the messenger, Hermes recounts Medusa's failings for which she has some very different explanations to offer. A feminist reimagining of the snake headed monster, dramatically Medusa Untold can feel weak for having nothing at stake and nowhere really it can go. Which leaves it relying heavily on its charm, insights, and humour. If always smart and funny, though not quite as smart or funny as it could be, it delivers lashings of charm courtesy of two engaging performances from Graham Coughlan and Michelle Costello. Looking as if Colin Farrell had strayed into an episode of Republic of Telly, the contrast between the down to earth Coughlan and the more performatively largesse Costello lends for some engagingly funny moments as fame and infamy battle for dominance. Suggesting that, with a little more work, Kelley Fitzgerald could have a cracking little show on her hands.

Matthew O'Brien and Alexandra Conlon in Finding Love in an Abattoir. Image by Cate Reid.

A cracking dish cooked to near perfection is Melissa Nolan's gripping Finding Love in an Abattoir. Here the life loving Ivo, working in Ireland away from wife and family, and the walking wound Oona, find themselves facing up to a wrong under grey Bundoran skies. Using scenes alternating with monologues, Nolan's smart thriller unfolds with superb moments of heightened theatricality including song, smart transitions, and a scene-stealing abattoir scene which Matthew O'Brien executes to split second perfection. Indeed, O'Brien's Ivo is simply adorable, contrasting superbly with Alexandra Conlon's strained Oona. If Conlon always has you rooting, she is robbed of showing just what she can really do by Oona disappearing just as she begins to emerge. For, without warning, it all suddenly, and annoyingly stops. Feeling like a first Act, or the pilot episode of a TV series you can't wait to binge watch, Finding Love in an Abattoir leaves you cursing under your breath for wanting more. Due in no small part to director Matthew Ralli, evoking spaces both beyond and within as he unfolds worlds with utter conviction on a few square feet of stage.

Ciaran McGlynn and Ashleigh Dorrell in The Lodge House. Image by Cate Reid.

Feeling like a decidedly overdone novel Katie McCann's The Lodge House nods a little too respectfully towards works like The Woman in Black, and looks somewhat pale for doing so. A supernatural tale of a young doctor travelling to a remote island to tend a stroke victim, a fallen woman comes to haunt him without him having done any wrong. With Ciaran McGlynn's doctor often functioning more as narrator than character, it's left to an energetic Ashleigh Dorrell, playing a cast of thousands, to pick up the slack. Frequently resembling a Victorian Missus Doyle in greater or lesser stages of excitement, Dorrell tries hard to show what McCann, as director, seems more intent on telling. With staging and story both looking staid, and the end making for a bit of an ask, the sense that The Lodge House is a work in development is very much to the fore. But it's a work that will need to ratchet itself up another few levels if it's to deliver to the standards of McCann's own theatrical ambitions. Supported by Fishamble.

In each of the above, it took huge courage to put work out there without any of the usual safety nets. It took huge courage to put Reboot Live 2020 on its feet knowing this would be the case. All are to be hugely commended. And supported. Only two more episodes to go.

Reboot Live 2020 runs at The International Bar on various dates till September 13.

Episode Three runs September 4 and 6, live streaming on September 6.

For more information, visit Reboot Live 2020.


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