Caca Dana Review: “All the World’s A Cage” – By Niamh Ryan

Caca Dana Review: “All the World’s A Cage” – By Niamh Ryan

By Cathy Lee

The brilliant “All The World’s A Cage” engages and grips an audience from the beginning. On entering the small secluded dimly lit made-to-do theatre at “The Teachers Club” Dublin 1, the actors we had not yet been introduced to were already present on the background of the stage. This set a relaxed sort of mood into the air as the stage was at ground level, we relaxed into the comfortable couch-like audience seats and all I could experience was the feeling of curiosity the entertainment to come, and I wasn’t to be disappointed by this expectation! I would wholeheartedly describe this play as another success for the fantastic playwright and star Niamh Ryan, who plays “Jill”.

The very limited stage space was essential and fitting for the story. This one room setting exposed the character of the lives that the three young women held together, tightly bound in a not exactly cluttered scenario but one of great importance we are to learn to each of them, particularly “Tina” – played by Marie Hegarty. We discover each of these young women, graduated from college in Galway in their early 20s, as we watch the hilarious lack of interaction unfold between the ladies and the driven TV License inspector. We later discover that maybe indeed that this authoritarian figure isn’t the only one of his kind in their lives. Be it boyfriends, co-workers or closed-minded directors – these young women are really up against it.

The placement of individual striking lines in the play were exceptional for me as they were very captivating and allowed me to further my belief in the talents of Niamh Ryan as a script writer. Most of the comedy was physical at the beginning of the play, from yoga fitness moves of “Jill” to exaggerated facial expressions of “Amy” and the improper placement of some lemons and limes. But as the themes of feminism and power in the play further, lines from Tina and of course Jill, played by Niamh Ryan were hard hitting and to the point.

I found the characters to be strong with each possessing a distinct individuality and their own world view, strongly expressed at differing points in the play. Niamh Ryan as “Jill” and Katie Reid as “Amy” were headstrong and often outrageous bringing in heavily the humour and dominance into the scenes but I feel too that “Tina” played a distinct role in balancing out the possibly deeper strength of characters in the acting of Niamh Ryan and Katie Reid.

The play addressed a form of modern day millennial message or struggle and a strong feminine message which broke down barriers of fear in that of being a woman, the restrictions and draw backs found that we see existing here as the story unfolds. Through strong will and true togetherness in friendship, the girls overcome their challenges and the energy within the play can be felt, through the honesty of humour and the true sense of belief in one another as women and as good friends.

Although the play only held one setting due to the limited stage space available, the actors made this work through their use of physical space to depict time passing and also the excellent use of selective lighting present was visually important. Props were used to a good affect, from the weapons to the couch – which both united and separated the girls at different stages. I think this also added some colour to the play in a different way than the strong comedy did, as sometimes the atmosphere was dreary as the sense of hopelessness became present for the characters at their current and somewhat fixed reality.

Niamh Ryan is clearly a multi-talented young woman, with excellent script writing skills and is a capable actress herself included. Having seen another Caca Dana production “Eternal Youth” before,” All The World’s A Cage” showed me a new side to the writing of Niamh Ryan and I think her talents are very diverse with the potential for a vast future to explore, which audiences of all kinds should enjoy.

I wish the team at Caca Dana Theatre company all the best for their ventures stateside and I look forward to their future productions, wherever they may be. You can check out their website here for further information: https://www.cdtheatreco.com/

Review: The Tempest – broadcast from Stratford-Upon-Avon

tempest

By Cathy Lee

On Wednesday January 11, I had the pleasure of seeing a Shakespeare play alongside one of my very good friends. We both share an interest in things literary and I was delighted to be invited to see this showing of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

What was different about this experience of Shakespeare was although I was watching one of his fantastic plays, it wasn’t on stage. In fact it was playing out on a large screen at the Eye Cinema, Galway. I was delighted to discover that despite the sounds of people crunching popcorn around me, it would be a great night of theatre – while not being at the theatre.

The Royal Shakespeare Company of London broadcast their performances to cinemas every couple of months. This really is a modern way to do Shakespeare. Don’t get me wrong, I love the theatre and seeing a play like any regular enthusiast but honestly I really wouldn’t knock the cinema experience. It was something entirely different and the quality of acting and producing was really outstanding. We were in awe of the story itself as it varied from scenes of disaster and hopelessness combined with comedy, love and relationships as well as final friendship in unlikely circumstances.

The story of The Tempest is well known and often told, given the amount of years it has been around for. But whole-heartedly, this version of the play was something utterly different and fell perfectly into the 21st century with the audience responding well also .When the director Gregory Doran, producer Pete Griffin and actor Mark Quartley, who plays the spirit Ariel, were interviewed during the intervals, you could truly see how much work was put into this production. This was something I suppose you wouldn’t get with regular theatre.

The play looks at the exile of a well-respected man, Prospero, played by Simon Russell Beale and his beloved daughter, Miranda (Jenny Rainsford) to an island with some magical qualities. There is a ship wreckage, how we are introduced to the tale, and a lot more people end up on this island than just the man and his daughter. We discover more about the slave to the family Caliban and the friend to Prospero, the magical spirit Ariel throughout the play.

While the play looks at the interaction between the royal sailors and the family, it also thoroughly explores the emotional relationship between father and daughter. The idea of moving on within the life-course and giving over to somebody else’s happiness being put before your own is looked at in detail. The principle character has to come to terms with his past as well as accepting the future that he wishes his daughter to have.

Quality of life is tested throughout the play, as the characters individually wish for more for themselves. This exploration of this puts into question who is good and who is evil in this tale. Described as Shakespeare’s most magical play, the technical enhancement to portray these magical elements played a huge role in the success of the play. It really was the highlight and could be particularly seen with the character Ariel, to bring his magical qualities well and truly to life. This was done through special lighting, voice-changing, colour and a high-tech costume that allowed a completely new portrayal.

I now know that the dusty copy I own of The Tempest will soon be coming off the book shelf as the play is very relevant to modern times. Sometimes the satellite buffered, but overall it didn’t take a lot away from the play.  The experience was quite interactive and you could also tweet your reactions as the play was being broadcast. This was certainly a very modern take on a classic and I had to agree with actor Mark Quartley, that it was something bold and daring that Shakespeare himself would have been proud of.

Photo: credit to site https://www.rsc.org.uk/the-tempest/about-the-play

A Message Amidst The Madness Series: Lessons Learnt.

By Cathy Lee

A lot of not very “every-day” things happened in my every-day life last week.

Let me just say before we get into this that you shouldn’t worry as this won’t be a diary entry.

Last week I began my usual college student routine, doing what I was supposed to be doing. By Saturday, I had had three cover stories in three different newspapers.

I also won first place at a competitive Poetry Slam (but that’s a different story).

The overused term that comes to mind is “that escalated quickly”, but if the shoe fits.

The irregularity of these events come from the content of the cover stories and the fact I was even involved in a Poetry Slam.

The stories were an analysis of changes in property prices in county Dublin, Wicklow and Carlow which were spread across three pages each.

That’s altogether nine pages of house prices, analysis and content coming from a student journalist who doesn’t own a home and isn’t an amazing tenant either.

Also currently I live in neither Dublin nor Wicklow and believe me, not even Carlow.

The point of this post is that life is quite unpredictable and basically I believe you need to take every opportunity, big or small, that comes your way.

I will tell you just how I did that this time around.

Back in December, I met with the editor of the papers to do an interview about the upcoming general elections in Ireland in 2016.

I had completed work experience at their “Wicklow Voice” paper over the summer, a two week stay at a paper I grew to really enjoy writing for.

He was very willing to talk and gave a good interview, I was happy with how it went.

He told me during our talk that day that he would have some upcoming journalism work for me and also mentioned the magic and underused word of “paid”.

Of course, I was delighted at this.

Then, the horror of the words hit like a ton of bricks on the horizon of a ghost estate, (now growing from ghostly to homely I might add).

“Property”.

I sunk at the thought, knowing that property was not in my vocabulary never mind my journalistic abilities.

15,000 homes were sold in Dublin 2015. I looked at the name, location and price of each property.

500 homes were sold in Carlow and 1,300 in Wicklow. That’s nearly 17,000 homes.

With the extremity of excitement in uncovering information such as this, I was beginning to lose faith in terms of whether anybody would even want to read this endless jargon of stats.

I soon learned that I was wrong. People love putting their nose in others homes, to see how the other half lives in some way.

I listed the cheapest and most expensive sales and also the top ten homes in the counties.

People go crazy for these things and such stats, I found out when I saw the spread of numbers and cartoon homes on the published papers.

I also noticed that each other national paper and locals had property stories too, so I didn’t feel alone in my extensive investigative research into the “Property Price Register”.

I think I got the shock when the killer headline was in big bold print and I had the beloved by-line to go with it.

I almost felt like a spreader of my personal property propaganda that the poor readers in Dublin, Wicklow and Carlow had just me to read on the cover of their locals.

Last year in the first year of my journalism course in Galway, a speaker from thejournal.ie told us that you can’t predict what stories readers will like the most.

That idea flashed into my mind all through last week.

I think in this game I’m now invested in, you have to just take it as it comes.

Never say no, nod along and figure out the ins and outs later because a high percentage of the time, you can figure out the best way around a tough situation.

We are born survivors aren’t we? Embrace that inner strength and grab at these chances.

Who knows, maybe when I buy my first home. I’ll know where to go and look, because the stories stick with you, no matter how far gone you are.

Carlow

 

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I attach links to the property stories and photographs of the cover stories, feel free to browse and thanks to Wicklow Voice, Dublin Voice and Carlow People papers.