Fortinbras Gets Drunk

Danny Hale goes to Dramat’s premiere performance of the season, and reports back on an entertaining evening.

Fortinbras Gets Drunk was the first of Dramat’s shows this year and was therefore under a certain amount of pressure as it introduced people to the society’s work and talent. I attended the performance on opening night, Tuesday the 9th of November.

Upon entering the space to take my seat I was immediately impressed by the elaborate set. I was interested to see the Granary’s seats formed in an ‘L’; this was something new for me and it really took me out of the space I’m used to seeing every day as a Drama student. I was well and truly landed in the world of the play.

As I waited for director Janusz Flakus’s performance to begin there was plenty to see; graffiti littered one wall of the set, a large closed marquee was before me and there was even a toilet onstage which had me immediately intrigued. This set would go on to complement the bizarre and almost random nature of the play ahead.

Aaron O’Sullivan and Sam Marks then opened the performance. Aaron as the ghost of King Hamlet was a joy; his physicality and comic timing were superb and had the audience laughing immediately. I was delighted to see him return as Polonius among others throughout the play and he really proved he was meant for the stage.

Sam Marks had a very brief moment as a Jewish Hamlet and it was just hilarious to see. This humour was then picked up by the fantastic stage presence of Andrea Bolger. Andrea played the part of the cross-dressing Eight-Eyes and provided such an entertaining performance.

Her physicality, her ‘manly’ voice and her Mona Lisa disguise were all as absurd as they were charming and immediately informed the audience of the world of the play and the kinds of characters they could expect to meet. Andrea jumping from the squat Eight-Eyes to the sexy and scary Eight-Tits was the highlight of the show for me.

Props must also be given to Eoghan Griffin who literally took up the substantial role of one of two guards on the opening day of the show. I watched Eoghan’s performance with no hint of him taking this role on mere hours before; he slotted into the performance alongside George Cummins and together they proved to be quite the double-act.

The main part of Fortinbras was played by Naoise McSweeney and this is a character I think I would have usually found very hard to sympathise with but Naoise’s interpretation really made this drunken Prince really quite endearing. Also as the title of the play suggests, Fortinbras spends practically all of his stage time drunk. Often people trying to act drunk can just be painful to watch and quite gimmicky but Naoise managed to masterfully capture the complete lack of grace that completely pissed people have! Every face-plant onto the floor just looked so real and quite painful! It was a truly entertaining and impressive performance.

On the downside there were a number of shaky scene changes and quite a few technical errors. I would confidently put this down to opening night and I know the production suffered more than one unforeseen set-back over its rehearsal period.

All in all I had a very enjoyable night in the theatre. Admittedly I did find it hard to follow the plot sometimes but I quickly learned to just go with it and to enjoy myself. The technical errors and long scene changes didn’t take away from the overall production and I was delighted to see theatre being used for theatre. The production was different, charming and altogether very enjoyable.

Originally published in the 23/11/2010 edition of the UCC Express

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