The new standard format Irish play

Our Few

Photo: irishtimes.com

I picked up two theatre leaflets. The first one was a play with one of those very solemn titles. You know: This play is a serious play. It’s called Our Few And Evil Days. Christ help us.

And you know that if that’s the title…well, here’s what the leaflet says:

“Adele and her parents have always been close. But recently, that closeness has been tainted by an increasing sense of mistrust. Tonight, a visit from a stranger will force them to confront the terrifying reality of their relationship.”

 A “stranger” comes in and shatters some cosy set-up (and always – in the first twenty minutes – the cosy set-up will be seen to have cracks in it).

Revelations. Disharmony. Truth.

Serious.

Is this kind of play the reason why they serve alcohol in theatres?

Is this the reason you can pre-order your booze, so you can just run out at half-time and get drinking?

The Mariner

Photo: dublintheatrefestival.com

The other play: it’s a variation on the stranger-coming-in-and-upsetting-the-applecart theme. It’s midway through World War One. A sailor comes home injured from a sea battle. His wife is delighted to see him. His mother questions his true identity. This causes conflict between the mother and the sailor’s wife.

You’re thinking: that could be a pretty funny short play. A half-an-hour comedy. Obviously he’s a totally different guy. The wife’s making the most of it. The cantankerous old ma is putting a spanner in the works. There’s jokes everywhere.

But no. It’s a ninety minute drama. Not including alcohol-break at the interval.

Both of these are playing in the two most Established and August Theatres in Dublin. So has the new standard Irish play arrived?

First we had the Irish play that takes place in a kitchen and is full of “black humour”.

Then in the late Nineties we had the monologue play (all of Conor McPherson). That ruled the roost for ten years.

Now – a new era – the new standard format Irish play – the stranger-comes-in-and-upsets-the-applecart play. Be prepared for “revelations”. And be sure to pre-order your interval drinks.

 

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