Saturday, April 05, 2008

"Shining City" - April 2008

Over the last few years Rapture have really impressed us both with their productions such as Frozen and The Collection, and the efforts they make to build relationships with their audience. So despite being unimpressed by our previous encounter with Conor McPherson's writing in St. Nicholas we were keen to see Shining City - so much so we went all the way to Paisley Arts Centre.

Set in Dublin, it's largely the tale of a psychotherapist and his grief stricken and guilt ridden client, John. Unfortunately the play just didn't engage me a great deal even with the best efforts of Michael Glenn Murphy as John. Despite the setting and a lively start with a Mike Scott soundtrack, McPherson's writing suffers from a severe lack of craic. Endless repetition of "you know" punctuated by expletives is a poor substitute for sharp and clever dialogue. Only occasionally is John written with enough humour to raise more than a gentle smile, and the other characters never really move beyond being plot devices. As a result the play seems overlong - particularly in the first act and to be honest I was left feeling it would work better as a single act two-handed piece.

Rory Murray does well with limited material as psychotherapist Ian, as do Melanie MacHugh and David Walshe, but the show really belongs to Murphy. Rapture Artistic Director Michael Emans has a real knack for bringing in lead actors of the highest quality, and after a recent run in "Molly Sweeney" Murphy is certainly a man on form. He has a real stage presence and his performance gives the play a much needed lift.

This was an enjoyable enough evening and delivers an effective ending, but I think it would take more than our continuing faith in Rapture to get us along to another piece by Conor McPherson - he obviously just isn't to our taste. We will however be booking up for Rapture's next production as advertised in the programme - Harold Pinter's "Betrayal". But we'll be following them elsewhere for that - Paisley Arts Centre just isn't a very satisfactory venue. With limited foyer space, ushers seating people incorrectly and very limited leg room it's way down our list of venues to return to.

Shining City continues on tour to Irvine, Stranraer, Rutherglen, Moffat, Kilmarnock, Bathgate and then on to Greenwich.
Image used with permission

3 Heckles

Waldorf said...

I've mentioned before that a play is much more than the performances and script. I need the whole things to work for me - set, lighting, sound. I don't need things 'fancy', but I do need it to be well thought out. I can get distracted quite easily by 'niggles'.

One thing Rapture is very good at is making the whole picture work, and the set and lighting were once again well structured. Like Statler I'm not sure about the play itself - my reaction was similar to Waiting for Godot.

Helen Smith said...

hello - interesting

I'm going to see this in London at the Greenwich Theatre at the end of April. Like you, I have never seen a Conor McPherson

Waldorf said...

You've obviously been spending too much time with the Whingers if you leave a comment half way through.

Will be interested in reading your thoughts later this month.