Saturday, 14 March 2009

In Search of Art: Marina Carr, Marble, The Abbey Theatre

Last night had the penultimate performance of Marble, Marina Carr's new play at the Abbey Theatre. Carr has never shirked from writing the elemental forces that truly terrify and Marble is no different. The play opens with two old friend, Art (Stuart McQuarrie) and Ben (Peter Hanly), in a swanky hotel drinking brandy and smoking cigars. Art tells Ben that he'd had a dream about Ben's wife the night before, that he'd made love to her in a beautiful marble room on a marble bed. This image of marble becomes the a motif throughout the play, almost a refrain from the four characters. It turns out that Catherine (Aisling O'Sullivan), Ben's wife, had the same dream about Art, even though they hardly know each other. Instead of considering this as just one of those coincidences (sure!), the lives of these two couples begin to unravel. Art's wife, Anne (Derbhle Crotty) is determined to control the reality around her, planning everything and deciding when to go to bed before she gets up. When confronted with Catherine's increasingly erratic behaviour, she only grips more fiercely onto what she has.

Carr shifts the setting from rugged landscapes to the urban. The action takes place in hotels and fancy restaurants, and luxurious homes in the suburbs where the most taxing thing a housewife will have to do is go to the shops to buy washing up liquid. The women are desperate. They have found themselves in these desolate lives, in landscapes as desolate and lonely as a bog in the midlands. The dream generates a reality that is as unreal as anything they've encountered and their attempts to embrace that is desperate to watch.

The set design was very good, sensitive to the surreal, the tricks of the eye and the mind. And the subtext of Giorgio de Chirico was very interesting. De Chirico is famous for melancholic scenes in monumental space, often with marble figures lying in the open, beside arches, waiting for something to happen.

For all of the power of the play, there is something not quite right about it. I don't know whether the acting was a little tired, or whether the writing was a little uncontrolled. I have a sense that the forces at work between the words were not quite fully ready; there is an unfinished quality about the writing and a slight sense of a paralysis of awe about it that did not satisfy.


oiuy said...
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Priya said...
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Doris said...
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