To the theatre: ‘Paint’

Paint

Doyle’s Pub in the centre of town is the end of party destination whenever the theatre group in which I am a member,  finishes the run of a play. Regardless of where the performances have been held – be it in Players Theatre; Teachers’ Club or the Pearse Centre – without fail on the final night, when the wrap party occurs, the cast and crew will wind up in a snug in Doyles, after midnight, in a state of some inebriation. The fact that it stays open until ridiculous o’clock in the morning is only partly the reason. It’s also quite a pleasant establishment – cosy; friendly; unpretentious, and only slightly let down by the fact it has city centre inflated prices.

So when Firedoor Theatre managed to get hold of the upstairs section of the bar for a run of a new play, it was an eminently practical decision. The space is vacant most evenings until the nightclub starts; it’s bang in the centre of town; it has a stage area and plenty of seating; and it’s a venue that we frequent on a regular basis anyway. A perfect union between Firedoor Theatre and venue in fact.

Premiering last night, and running until Saturday night 24th April, upstairs in Doyle’s, is Firedoor Theatre’s latest original play ‘Paint’. It is directed by Sarah Thunder and stars Alan O’Connell and Shaun Elebert.

Written by Stephen Ryan, it began life as a short piece in the group’s 2017 ‘Uncut’ showcase. This is an annual event where several short pieces of new writing are staged in a theatre space over several nights. It is an excellent opportunity for a writer to see his or her work in a live setting, and allows actors to strut their funky stuff before an audience. I have written several pieces for this event – most recently ‘Mother’s Little Holiday’ – the tawdry tale of a leopard-print clad diva, and her vinegar lipped best friend as they fight white collar crime in Tenerife and IKEA. This epic tale of common trollopery has recently been expanded. Watch this space…

In ‘Paint’, two men Ray (Shaun Elebert) and Chris (Alan O’Connell) encounter each other in the dead of night, outdoors. Ray is painting a wall. Chris is waiting for his friend Jimmy, who is driving from Donegal with an unidentified cargo. Chris has agreed to help him transport it. Over the course of their conversation we learn about Chris’s life and his struggles and how he has ended up here, past the midnight hour,  helping his potentially dodgy friend. His life has not panned out the way he had hoped as a youth. Ray reveals far less about himself. Claiming that there is no deep explanation as so why he appears in this deserted place, night after night, to paint this same piece of wall. We learn that he has two children and a vanished wife. Little else. He stands there. Painting.

It’s a very interesting concept. Ray paints repetitively, hypnotically, robotically. Chris gets increasingly flustered as he waits for his friend, with Ray’s refusal to explain why he is there.

The acting is strong and convincing. You might not know why these men are here, but you accept it. Despite the lack of explanation for Ray’s actions, the audience is allowed to fill in their own explanation. This is a consequence of the direction, where the audience is trusted to fill in their own backstory to the sharply written, engaging script.

All told a very interesting and entertaining show. And we were already in Doyle’s so didn’t have to travel to do the post show analysis.

‘Paint’ is on at 8pm every evening this week until Saturday, in Doyle’s Bar, College Street in Dublin. Tickets are €10 on the door or through Eventbrite.

Recommended.

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