The audience walks into a cramped room with a blank stage apart from three chairs. A man offers each member of the audience a shot of whiskey. A shameless bribe perhaps? An apology in advance? Before the performer (?) begins the performance, he states that he strongly dislikes the piece that they are about to perform, the piece being Passion of the Playboy Riots. Folks, I can safely say after sitting through this fifty-minute attempt at historical political theatre about the relationship between art and propaganda, that that character and I are very much in the same boat.
One might accuse someone who doesn’t enjoy this piece of not being patient enough or not being capable of appreciating a topic such as this, to that, firstly, I say “The writing of this piece is definitely not as intelligent as the writer obviously thinks it is!” with so many dramaturgical anomalies you could fall through them and dialogue so painstakingly obnoxious that it takes an incredibly interesting subject and drags it through the mud in a failed attempt to satirize it. Secondly, this is a subject that would make a wonderfully relevant piece of political theatre, stating itself that it is ‘relevant to Brexit, the Irish backstop and Scottish Independence’. This quote would be true if it was written correctly, instead what is presented is a self-indulgent, unfunny and most importantly, unintelligent piece of incomplete writing.
I can only imagine that the company doesn’t name any member of the cast or crew in order to protect their identities from being associated with Passion of the Playboy Riots. I can’t include the whiskey-shot-dealer as his involvement to the piece is so minimalistic that it’s totally unnecessary. The actor playing WB Yeats has his moments, but those moments are totally saturated by his painfully unrealistic portrayal of a human. The performer portraying Lady Gregory offers no likeable personality trait about the character, not even that they’re interesting in their negativity, just simply drab and uninteresting. However, the most obnoxious performer has to be the poor soul playing Patrick Pearse, an attempt to be politically profound as well as poetically charming so wooden and robotic that it can’t help but fall flat on its face.
I can’t fully complete my review on this experience without talking about the severe lack of professionalism in all of the performers. A gentleman who was with the company sat in the back of the very small auditorium and decided to converse with the actors when they went backstage, also at the back of the auditorium, loudly and obviously enough to totally distract me from the action onstage. The lack of professionalism also showed the lack of confidence they had in their own piece, when at one of the most serious moments of the piece, the rest of the cast have to stop themselves from erupting in laughter, while my friend in the back did not attempt to stop himself, but instead ruined what little atmosphere that was there.
Passion of the Playboy Riots has to be one of the worst pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long time. A piece that reeks so badly of unprofessionalism, incompletion and defeatism, the whisky-dealer might want to quadruple his servings as compensation.
Main Image Credit: Cameron Bell