Originally published by Entertainment.ie, Wednesday 15th May, 2013. To read the original, please click here.
Written by: Philip Rademeyer
Directed by: Philip Rademeyer
Cast: Ella Gabriel, Roelof Storm
Part of Dublin’s 10th Annual Gay Theatre Festival, the European premiere of Philip Rademeyer’s The View, which is largely set in confines of a prison cell, found itself the perfect venue in the basement of Parnell Square’s Teacher’s Club.
Told from the perspective of a young, imprisoned, gay man, who sits, center stage, watching a video of messages from those he has known in his life outside the prison walls, the play centers around the young man and yet features many perspectives from a multitude of characters, played with great energy from actress Ella Gabriel. The Cape Town actress plays everyone from the prison’s gatekeeper, to his mother, to a peeping neighbor. Her greatest triumph however, is as a cynical news reporter reporting on the man’s trial and imprisonment; downstage center and stood up on a chair, she immediately brings to mind Tilda Swinton; particularly the Tilda Swinton that we see in Michael Clayton.
The story of the young man’s imprisonment and the nature of his relationship with those characters played by Gabriel, the story is told with great originality and creativity. After playing each part, Gabriel hangs an item of clothing or an accessory from each character, which over the course of the play build up to create a vivid image of the young man’s past of his relationship to the characters played by Gabriel.
What pulls the play back however, is its forays into “In- yer- face” theatre; that now much dated trend from the 1990s that sought to teach us that shouting as loud as one possibly can, howling profanities from across the stage and uttering abstract, idiosyncratic language is theatre at its most vital. It isn’t. The effect, unfortunately, that this has on The View is a play that struggles to keep the dynamics fresh and exciting for the audience and, instead, the play resorts to the cheap hallmarks of “In- yer- face” theatre as a way of keeping the structure of the play interesting and engaging for the audience. The play also struggles, at times with its own limitations and it doesn’t stretch out the possibilities as much as it possibly could; there is, for example, little humor in the play, which if there was more, would play off quite colorfully against the monologue from the imprisoned young man.
The play also isn’t served well by an ending that is as portentous as it is labored; the young man rising out of his chair and assuming a Christ-like pose. The physical dynamics of the central character are not fully explored: at times, he is too still and, again, the limitations of sitting on the chair do more to hinder the production rather than anything else.
Patchy, though boasting a brilliant performance from actress Ella Gabriel and featuring creative and well thought-out lighting, The View, unfortunately, doesn’t look far enough into it’s own possibilities.
The View runs in The Teacher’s Club until the 18th may at 9.30pm. Matinee: 18th May at 4.30pm. Tickets: €10 – €15. For more information go to: www.gaytheatre.ie
For the full International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival programme click here.