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Monday, September 29, 2008

Here and now

My review of You Are Here in today's Irish Daily Mail

You Are Here (Daytime and Night-time),

Quartiere Bloom, Dublin

Shows at 1pm, 3pm, 8pm and 10pm until October 12. See

 Rating: 4 out of 5

Verdict: A highly original interactive experience that takes the term ‘fly on the wall’ to fascinating new heights.

 This year’s Dublin Theatre Festival is playing host to several major productions, notably Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Gregory Burke’s Black Watch, but few plays will be able to match Living Space Theatre Group’s You Are Here in terms of originality and sheer envelope-pushing innovation.

 For good and for bad, the modern city centre apartment is one of the most potent emblems of the Celtic Tiger boom, and here an actual apartment in the bustling Italian Quarter serves as both the setting for, and the central character of, a topical, almost philosophical piece that grants a voyeuristic look into the lives of four Dubliners, who have at one point or another all lived in or shared that same characterless pad.

 Every day during the festival, the show is presented in two 60-minute parts in the afternoon and at night, and for each one, the audience is given a colour-coded wrist band that determines which character and story they are to shadow in different rooms of the apartment: the adulterous couple (Aonghus Weber and the luminous Annemarie Gaillard), a homeless estate agent (Carl Kennedy, assaying the show’s most comical strand), and a depressed self-help writer (the wonderful Eleanor Methven). 

And shadow we most certainly do: standing viewers literally become flies on the wall, observing the action right up close, themselves becoming nosy, ghostly presences in a dwelling already haunted by the lives of its current and former occupants, an apartment where even the furniture, appliances and plants offer up character details and musings by way of voiceover and other sound effects.

Through this fragmented, open-ended, purposefully incomplete structure, playwright Ioanna Anderson, and director Tara Derrington, explore notions of home and what that word, that concept means in an age, and a city, rife with alienation and loneliness, and where rampant consumerism and ‘me-me-me’ self-involvement reign supreme.

Through random selection, this reviewer mainly followed Weber and Gaillard’s intimate story, which is told from different perspectives during the daytime and night-time shows. Naturally, I left wanting to know more about the other plots that I had to miss, but that’s just an excuse to catch another viewing, as is the opportunity each audience member is given to rifle through the apartment, snooping through its archaeology to find little clues – a sex toy, a bottle of pills, a photograph – that shed more light onto these four pawns caught up in the ultimate reality show.






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