Eirwaves

Mon 21st – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Katrina Gaffney

at 09:48 on 24th Aug 2017

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Irish comedy could be said to be going through a bit of a rough patch (I’m referring mainly to the Mrs Brown phenomenon) but fear not, Shabaddo Theatre company is here and they’ve put together something really exciting to rectify that. 'Eirwaves' is an original sketch comedy based around a day of radio broadcasting in 1960’s Ireland - a slightly niche concept perhaps but one that delivers on hilarity.

The format of the show was unique and fun: it provided structure whilst simultaneously allowing for a great deal of variation. There were sketches based around all types of programme, from panel discussions on farming, with a special guest speaker I won’t spoil, to news reports on Lenten mass from the Vatican. Each sketch felt distinctive and this meant that the audience were never allowed to grow bored. I was particularly amused by a sketch which was meant to be a dark drama, ‘The Protestants’ it was called. Whilst this show might have run the risk of being a little stereotypical, the light hearted way in which it was delivered made sure that the audience appreciated the humour in every sketch.

A cast of five took on a plethora of different characters throughout the show, covering everyone from school boys to ancient farmers. The multitude of performances that each cast member gave was in itself impressive, I was particularly pleased with the adoption of regional Irish accents for different characters. The cast were full of energy and it was partly as a result of their efforts that this show was such a success.

I think my own personal connections to Ireland contributed to my appreciation of Eirwaves: there were moments when certain characters may have reminded me of my own family members. However, whilst a knowledge of Irish history and culture might help with the understanding of a couple of jokes, it was by no means a prerequisite for enjoyment of this show. The absurd nature of much of the comedy would be accessible to any audience member.

If you’re Irish you must see this show and you know what, if you’re not Irish you should probably see it too. It was a comedic triumph; in parts outrageous but consistently funny. 'Eirwaves' provides a breath of fresh, Irish air for the Fringe.

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Amaris Proctor

at 12:54 on 27th Aug 2017

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This production, which riffs on the tropes and motifs of radio comedy, is stylishly enacted. In terms of tone, the show is on point. A sense of skill informs the performers’ wickedly impish soundbites, which microcosmically encapsulate Ireland in the 1960s.

The substance of the writing itself is to be greatly admired. Mostly the show is good, cleanish fun, and itself submits the self-effacing judgement that it’s not exactly crafted from ‘nail-biting stuff’. At times, it feels like the play is flavoured with a familiarity and begrudging affection for the piety of rural life, which places value on inside cultural knowledge. However, at other moments the satirical elements of the piece bare their teeth. Shots are fired at Lutherism, the Pope, religious paranoia, the IRA, patriotism, and linguistics, meaning volatile territory is deftly crossed. The parodic takes on various forms, including a side-splitting burlesque of public service announcements, are light on their feet and killingly funny. The irreverently revamped ‘Sex and the City’ spin on James Joyce particularly showed off the chic sharpness of the writing. The only bit that was crummily bland was one which dealt with vampires, and that’s just because the Fringe comedy scene this year has been flushed with these supernatural beings for some reason or other. While tethering the theatrical work so fiercely to a specific place in time and history may mean it will swoop right over the heads of some international audience members, it most certainly recognises its niche, and how to successfully exploit it.

This was all carried off with considerable virtuosity by the cast. The strength with which they were directed is clearly exposed, specifically in their accomplished deadpan, which is a scream. Each of the actor’s versatility must be praised to the skies, as they transform themselves into a series of distinctive and idiosyncratic characters. These are consistently fully realised, primarily without the crutch of physical comedy. This is emphasised further stylistically. The lack of props or set pieces, and the sleekly fashionable aesthetic of the period dress gives the show a streamlined feel. The actors flit with a supple fluency and precision over the unique quirks of various dialects, offering any listener with an inclination towards linguistics a delightful assortment in which to luxuriate. More generally, their performances are imbued with humour. Their comedic timing is so superb its difficult to discern whether it is instinctual or the product of endless rehearsal. Ultimately, its an unrepeatable piece well worth watching.

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