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Published on April 24th, 2009 | by Allan


Review: The New Electric Ballroom, Town Hall Theatre, Galway

The first thing that strikes you about Druid’s New Electric Ballroom is the shockingly spare stage design. The lavish promises of the play’s title are dispelled immediately upon seeing the set. Immense grey walls wrap a raked floor and bare furniture. And with that misconception firmly in place, the gaudy colours of hope, regret and habit splash across the stage in Walsh’s absurdist tragedy.

The setting, while indisputably Irish, is not any physical place, but that recognisable hinterland that borders Beckett and Ionesco, a place where ideas wear the flesh of people. 3 female siblings are trapped in an epic regurgitation of their memories of the New Electric Ballroom. For the youngest, her incarceration in these memories is vicarious- she is so familiar with the stories of a place she’s never been she prompts the elder sisters in their faltering and reluctant retellings of the dashed hopes of romance.

It was interesting to hear some of the audience react to a repeated monologue: its first rendition delivered in a (virtuoso) rush by Rosaleen Linehan, almost in attempt to purge it, had passed many by. The writing is at times so dense that the constant repetition is welcome, allowing first a taste and then a savour of the brilliantly mundane dialogue.

All the performances are strong, but Mikel Murfi and Rosaleen Linehan deserve special mentions, and the play contains one of the most breathtaking moments of theatrical transformation I’ve ever seen.

Enda Walsh is this generation’s Brian Friel.

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About the Author

Allan is a Galway based cartoonist with a smörgåsbord of interests including visual art, music, technology and politics, and has always wanted to use smörgåsbord in a sentence. He also blogs at Caricatures Ireland.

6 Responses to Review: The New Electric Ballroom, Town Hall Theatre, Galway

  1. demure lemur says:

    What’s the purpose of this rev-yoooou Allan? What’s the purpose of this rev-you?

    Nice review of a fecking brilliant play. I love hearing Walsh getting bigged up. He’s the real deal.

    I like your point about it being set in a place where ideas wear the flesh of people. You wouldn’t have an English degree by any chance would you?

    One of my favourite things about it was the humour. Like, everyone was laughing, but laughing at different times. There was never one great big communal belly laugh, just nervous titters or sharp bursts of mirth from various corners of the auditorium. Alienating, Brecht might say, if he wan’t busy being dead.

  2. Allan says:

    Yeah, and we had a line all to ourselves!

  3. Darren Byrne says:

    Oh excellent. Tell me, do you have any links to hand? Any idea if it’s traveling? Is it playing for a while or just a short run?

  4. Allan says:

    I think it finishes in Cork tonight unfortunately.

  5. Yes. No. Fish.

    Great play. Saw it in Edinburgh last year.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if we see it in Dublin before the year’s out.

  6. Allan says:

    Hopefully Druid will do a Walsh season some time soon. I saw his two one acts during the Galway Arts Festival last year and they were absolutely breathtaking and terrifying and I was glad the sun was shining when I got out of Druid Lane.

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