Love & Money – Reading Plays – Episode 16

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Love and Money is a little known play from 2006, an early work by Dennis Kelly, the London Irish television writer who would go on to create controversial British television series Pulling & Utopia. The play debuted at the Manchester Royal Exchange, before moving to the Young Vic. It was recently staged in Dublin by the La Touche Players, in a production directed by James O’Connor. The play has been called variously ‘one of the best new plays of the year’ and ‘beyond doubt the most self indulgent drivel I’ve ever reviewed’.

Our protagonists David & Jess, live their lives backwards, moving from horrific conclusion to existential conundrum – by way of addictive shopping and sexual harassment. Thematically, Love and Money is a contemporary piece – concerned with the impact of debt and the crushing phenomenology of the bureaucracy on families and marriages. Tonally it’s a pitch black comedy, with aspirations to social criticism. We take two hours to explore this timely piece of modern theatre.

Download: Episode 16 – Love & Money

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Image – Rude Guerrilla Theatre Company production 2009.

The Miss Firecracker Contest – Reading Plays – Episode 15

THE MISS FIRECRACKER CONTEST PROMO

A satire of the Southern potboiler in the form of a beauty pageant, The Miss Firecracker Contest was first performed at a tiny LA theatre in 1980. Later moving to an off Broadway production directed by ubiquitous character actor and storyteller Stephen Tobolowsky. Tobolowsky’s childhood experiences served as the inspiration for this story of narcissism and loathing at the Mississippi Rose of Tralee. The part of rakish Brontesque lead Delmount was written with him in mind. Miss Firecracker Contest was later adapted into a film starring Holly Hunter. Beth Henley’s script has been praised for it’s ‘quirky characters’ and ‘strong messages’, but is this a profound comedic examination of the lives of Southern women? Or merely a message in a bottle – a didactic wafer thin work, constrained by form and inhabited by shadows?

The play centres around one aspiring firecracker Carnelle Scot, raised by her cousins – the glamorous Elain Routledge and the roguish sex offender Delmount Williams. Carnelle’s efforts to win the contest are aided by her goggle-eyed, underclass seamstress Popeye Jackson, and deterred by her reputation as a floozy. Despite having cleaned up her act and treated her syphilis, Carnelle is haunted by the neglect and abandonment of her parents and her years as the town’s good time. Meanwhile Carnelle’s lush cousin Elain has left her wealthy husband, and her hated brother Delmount has returned from his imprisonment in a mental asylum – where he was committed due to his penchant for broken bottle fights, devirginations and attempted strangulations – to sell the family mansion.

Download: Episode 15 – The Miss Firecracker Contest

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

The Cripple of Inishmaan – Episode 14 – Reading Plays

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Martin McDonagh’s 1996 play ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ is the first in a loosely defined and as yet unfinished Aran Island Trilogy. Set on the most banal of the islands, Inish Maan, in the early 1930s, the play is a violently farcical examination of family, social exclusion and the noble lie. Cripple of Inishmaan was recently revived on Broadway in a production starring Daniel Radcliff, and Pat Short, winning six Tonys. Another sterling success for a playwright who once said “Theatre isn’t something that’s connected to me, from a personal point of view, I can’t appreciate what I’m doing.”


Download: Episode 14 – The Cripple of Inishmaan

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play:

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

The Piano Lesson – Episode 13 – Reading Plays

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A family history entwined with the legacy of slavery. Black urban poverty in 1930’s Pittsburg. Criminality and working class aspirations. Intersectionality and the patriarchy of the poor. August Wilson’s Piano Lesson is an issue play, and winner of the Pulizer prize. Does this relentlessly grim parlour drama descend into stereotyped kitsch, or lend it’s denigrated characters a nobility transcending their circumstances?

Download: Episode 13 – The Piano Lesson

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Continue reading “The Piano Lesson – Episode 13 – Reading Plays”

Some Girl(s) – Episode 12 – Reading Plays

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Some peanuts are eaten, some water bottles empties, some hotel rooms vandalised. Outside of that Neil LaButes ‘Some Girls’ is a less than action packed look at relationships. Love through the eyes of an immature ‘every guy’ whose self absorption drives his quest to reexamine a history of failed relationships. There are plenty of plays featuring assholes, but this is perhaps the first play we’ve read primarily about one. Instead of seven dwarves this sleepwalking beauty has four girls, each of whom seem more than happy to meet a self satisfied ex-lover unbidden in an anonymous hotel room.

The version we read of the play – the printed piece, is as written – but not as performed at first run (starring David Schwimmer of all people) – when it was ‘streamlined’ to make the protagonist a little more palatable. A film version of the play, starring the OC’s Adam Brody premiered last year at South by South West.

Download: Episode 12 – Some Girl(s)

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: The Piano Lesson by August Wilson

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile – Episode 11 – Reading Plays

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His autobiography boasts that Steve Martin began working at age ten in the newly opened Disneyland, graduating to study poetry and philosophy and spend 18 years performing as “America’s best loved stand up comedian”. Martin has in addition managed a career an accomplished banjo musician and movie star. He writes “I was not naturally talented… though working against that made me inventive”. The open question is whether inventiveness is enough to moderate a lack of dramaturgic ability.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile recounts an imagined meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, while both are in their early twenties, yet to make their mark on the century. The play is a sweetly antique ribald sex comedy set in a real Montmartre cabaret immortalised in Picasso’s painting ‘At the Lapin Agile’. It was first staged at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 1993, and won the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off Broadway Play.

Download: Episode 11 – Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: Some Girls by Neil LaBute.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Disco Pigs – Episode 10 – Reading Plays

Disco Pigs

Arriving at the end of the nineteen nineties, at exactly the time Martin McDonagh was exploding the Irish national theatre with the first of his Leenane trilogy, Disco Pigs articulated a radical new vision of Irishness. An Irishness deracinated of nationalism, appalled by republicanism, raised on television and clubland. A dissolute Irishness – frozen in the decaying embrace of the still powerful church. Our soi-disant twin protagonists Pig and Runt are, like the nation, awakening just before the dawn of the 21st century: Becoming self aware in a final desperate defence against perpetual inferiority. The plays ostensibly simple dialogue takes us deep into an expressionist teenage universe, where sex, violence and imagination dissolve the surface of a mundane world.

First staged in 1996 at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, Disco Pigs moved on to the Dublin and Edinburgh festivals. The first production starred Killian Murphy and Eileen Walsh. Eileen would go on to star in the Magdalene Sisters and win best actress award at the Tribeca Film festival for her performance in the 2008 film Eden. Although she was to replaced in the role of Runt for Kirsten Sheriden’s film version, by Elaine Cassidy.

Download: Episode 10 – Disco Pigs

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: Picasso at the Lapin Agile by Steve Martin.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

The Bald Soprano – Episode 9 – Reading Plays

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Quantum Physics, synchronicity, English mustachios, it has to be Eugene Ionesco’s ‘The Bald Soprano’ (La Cantatrice Chauve). This is a play for which context is essential: Beckett’s growing reputation in France at the beginning of the 1950’s. The efforts of dramatists who became known as the ‘theatre of the absurd’ to acknowledge the horrors of fascism. The birth of post-modernism with it’s portrayal of the fragmentary nature of subjective reality. And Ionesco’s own inspiration – bizarrely banal English language learning tapes. In attempting to recreate the imaginative truth of these unheimlich lessons, Ionesco engaged with some of the most complex intellectual problems of his time.

The play begins as a parody of urbane English parlour comedies, spearing every convention from obtuse bon-mots to farcical misunderstandings, from trite social commentary to ironic contradictions. Out of this meta-humour, brilliantly trivialising the trivial, develops a slow horror, as identities dissolve, time disappears, life and death become confused and disorder reins.

The Bald Soprano was Ionesco’s first play, originally written in his native Romanian, before being rewritten in French. Since it’s first performance on May 11th 1950, the play has become one of the most performed works in France. We read the 1964 translation by Donal M. Allan.

Download: Episode 9 – The Bald Soprano

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.