Entertainment, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love (Irish) Arts: Penelope

Niall Buggy, Aaron Monaghan, and Karl Shiels in Druid's Penelope by Enda Walsh. Directed by Mikel Murfi. Photo credit: Robert Day

Madly poetic men in speedos, trapped with a broken grill in an abandoned swimming pool. Above them is an unobtainable beauty in a blue dress. While waiting for her to say yes or no to their proposals of love, they’ve gotten fat and old. Now her husband is coming back to barbecue them all.

Did I mention speedos?

The initial sight gag that opens Penelope had the packed theater giggling. An overly bronzed man in an orange speedo grilling up a tiny sausage instantly telegraphs this is an absurd world ripe with comedy. Or is it? There’s a suspicious blood spatter stage right…

Playwright Enda Walsh is brilliant at pulling you through laughs to a sucker-punch of a tragic conclusion. It’s the gift of the Irish bard, perhaps, that superlative facility at weaving language into tales, leading an audience from laughter to tears. Galway’s Druid has brought his genius to Studio Theatre as part of the New Ireland Festival through April 3, and it’s a deservedly hot ticket this St. Patrick’s Day with Walsh speaking after tonight’s performance.

A re-imagining of Homer’s Odyssey from the point -of-view of faithfully waiting wife Penelope’s suitors, it explores what happens to the men when action is thwarted and purpose diverted. Do they gang up together and storm the castle to take Penelope by force? No. They sit around sunning themselves, drinking fruity cocktails. Then they turn on each other like a pack of dogs. Continue reading