Archive for October 16th, 2006|Daily archive page

Exiles

Exiles

 Went to see James Joyce’s one and only play ‘Exiles’ last night at the National Theatre (Cottosloe). Although I was not in the mood for theatre and feeling quite resistant at the outset, it proved to be very engaging. It’s also very illuminating if you’re interested in ‘Ulysses’. Now, I’m a ‘Ulysses’ lover rather than a Joyce fan, it’s my favourite book in the world. The themes of betrayal in marriage, freedom in love, writer’s complex relationships with their lovers, even Ireland’s future in Europe, are all common to both works. And the closing lines from the mouth of the key female protagonist reflecting on the blooming of love in youth link the two works.

The role of Robert Hand, the journalist counter-part to the literary writer, was played really well by our old friend Adie Dunbar. We hooked up with him after the performance in the green room. Crossed an actor from Theatre de Complicite going in. Had a chat with Peter McDonald who played Richard Rowan and a brief brush with Dervla Kirwan (of Ballykissangel) who was Bertha, the Molly Bloom-related character.

Adie was shagged from two performances in the day so drove him home, listening to his first LP (with his band the Jonahs) entitled ‘Two Brothers’ – he’s also a fine singer, having performed, for example, with Brian Kennedy, and memorably at Sherry Scott and John Keegan’s wedding (Wild Mountain Thyme). The soft, swirling celtic country vibe provided a fine soundtrack to nocturnal London on a lively Saturday.

Death of a President

Death of a President (More4)

 

Went to a screening a few days before its premiere on More4 of ‘Death of a President’, the new FilmFour/More4 production which has caused so much fuss in the good ol’ US of A. Peter Dale, head of More 4, attended along with the commissioner, Liza Marshall.

It’s an original and imaginative way to explore current affairs and the political landscape in the US and beyond. Set just into the future, President Bush gets assasinated on 17th October 2006, it charts the build up a la JFK with a pretty sympathetic portrait of George W highlighting his affability and charm. Then in the wake of a grassy knoll-type shooting outside a hotel in Chicago, it shows the US domestic fall-out of the assasination, drama-doc style with excellent performances by US theatrical actors as forensic scientists, suspects, presidential aids, etc.

It has the genuine emotion in it essential to engaging drama – you don’t feel good watching Bush’s wife going in to the hospital or seeing him on the operating table, and you believe the welling eyes of his speech-writer. Less believable is the botched FBI investigation where a prime suspect is overlooked in the hysterical pressure of having to tie-up the case quickly. The interweaving of news footage, security footage, familiar TV documentary forms and recreations of all of the above is masterful, from the team who brought The Day Britain Stopped to BBC TV.

The film highlights the dangers of the Patriot Act route and the seething resentment growing around Iraq. What’s best about it is that it represents a bold new way of exploring politics, history and current affairs using imagination, speculation and entertainment. I said to Peter at the end that we should be proud that the questions have been asked from this side of the water by a daring, creative Public Service broadcaster. It would never come out of the good ol’ US of A.

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