TROMLUI PINOCCHIO: A NIGHTMARE by Moonfish Theatre.
Smock Alley Theatre, 7 Lower Exchange Street, County Dublin.To 22 December.
7.30 pm. Runs 90 mins, 15 min interval. Matinees 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st at 12 pm; 15th, 16th and 22nd at 2.30 pm.
Tickets: 00 3531 677 0014 www.smockalley.com
Review: Michael Paye 18 December 2012.
Striking in places, but eeriness often gives way to familiar school lessons
As a student of the Irish language, the one thing that I will always remember is how the tales that we had to learn for various examinations were either a celebration of republicanism or eerie ghost stories replete with predictable twists. Moonfish Theatre Company, creating works using English and Irish, try to hold a balance between entertaining and enterprising in TROMLUI PINOCCHIO: A NIGHTMARE, but occasionally fall into very familiar territory which many people would argue has turned so many off Gaelic.
Máiread Ni Chroinin remains in the background, setting off sound effects and overdubbing the action, giving the audience a view of how a nightmare is crafted out of the simplest of objects, and also demonstrating that terrific sound effects need not be totally computer generated, as shown by the squeaky wooden doll used to illustrate the noise of Pinocchio’s unpractised limbs.
Several switches to talk-show sequences, where the host tries to get an emotional response out of Pinocchio for the audience’s pleasure are also nicely planted, calling attention perhaps to how wooden our own responses have become toward sad stories in the face of television and marketability.
Audience interaction is well practiced throughout the performance, with characters coming out at one point to ask whether people are having a good time, first in Irish but in English if you don’t understand. In this regard, TROMLUI is quite diplomatic in how it plays the language game. Questions asked in Irish are generally answered in English, and placards with translations are also used to assist the audience with none of the language.
Overall, Moonfish Theatre Company brings a mix of passion and energy to the story of Pinocchio. Certain sections, such as the dance-club scene and talk-show work extremely well, but the recurrence of eerie moments make this production all too familiar, and it begins to feel like you are back at your desk, learning a poem or short story in Irish that has nothing to do with reality. Arguably this is not the fault of Moonfish – they don’t make the school curriculum, after all – but in refreshing the story of Pinocchio and bringing the Irish language to life, they need to be wary of the realities of learning Irish and how often their tale falls into territory that will not haunt people, but simply feel familiar and school-like.
Máiréad Ní Chróinín
Ionia Ni Ní Chróinín
Producer: Kate Costello.
Production Manager: Emma O’Grady.
Lighting Designer: Matt Burke.