Réiltín at Dublin Theatre Festival

RC)iltC-n Publicity Image

 

POP QUIZ ASSHOLE!

Sorry, that was needlessly aggressive. Would you please take this very brief quiz?

Which of the following is the correct spelling for the Irish word for “Irish”?

  1. Gaelige
  2. Gaeilge
  3. Gaeilige

The answer’s below*, and if you got it right, well done. But be honest, you had to think about it for a minute, didn’t you? (assuming you didn’t just guess randomly). Consider this, and you will understand the challenge faced by Fíbín Teo, whose production Réiltín opened in the Peacock last night.

They’re not trying to mount Irish language theatre in a country where the majority of people can’t speak Irish.

They’re trying to mount Irish language theatre in a country where the majority of people can’t even spell Irish.

Fíbín understands this better than anyone and has a long tradition of mounting drámaíocht that would be accessible even to the current Minister for the Gaeltacht (Chríost ar Rothar). The play is essentially a one woman operetta as Clíona Ní Chíosain (Aifric) tells the story of one girl’s attempt to make it as a singer entirely through Irish language rock songs. A non-stop hour-long vocal performance is a huge ask of any actor and Ní Chíosain is a real talent with an impressive emotional range. The night I saw the play, however, I couldn’t escape the impression that I was watching a performer battling The Fear, that dreaded bogeyman that makes an actor hesitant to give their all. She had loosened up considerably by the end but she really needed to be there and all there from the second the lights went on. It’s a big pity because when she’s firing on all cylinders, Ní Chíosain is explosive. There are many techniques and exercises to kill The Fear, some of them don’t even involve alcohol.

As for the production itself: it’s strong on presentation and atmosphere, with slick pre-recorded footage showing Réiltín’s journey from small town Ireland to England and back again, while her emotional journey takes place onstage. Where it’s weakest is probably the story which is…not really that involving. This is especially frustrating because, while the dialogue in any Irish language production by necessity has to be pared back and simplified so as not to lose the audience, plot has no such linguistic hurdles to surmount and there’s no reason why the story we’re given couldn’t have been a bit more engaging.

 The Unshaved Mouse

Réiltín runs in the Peacock until the 28 of September with the performances on the 24, 26 and 28 subtitled for the benefit of the perfidious Sassanachs.

 

*The answer is A. I think.

Wait, maybe it’s C.

Hang on, let me check Google.

Ah. It’s B. 

 

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