PICK OF THE WEEK
There’s still some time to go before this venue becomes the site of a hotel and Hangar finds a new abode. Tonight they welcome Drumcode and Cocoon rep Mark Reeve to the gaff. Reeve is a producer whose techno and tech-house comes with booming bassline and swinging grooves, as seen on tracks such as Drumatics. Support from Luke Xander and Dylan Moran. BIRTHDAY Techno Friday It has been quite a year for Techno Friday. They kicked off with a monthly night at The Pav before that venue closed and necessitated a move to AMP for the club, its residents and such international guests as Neil Landstrumm and John Heckle. Tonight the focus is on the residents; Jamie Behan (Bastardo Electrico) and Jon Barry lead the way. PIANO IMPROV Alexander Hawkins Trio WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? “That’s the idea,” announces Estragon during Waiting For Godot: “let’s abuse each other.” It’s a good way to pass the time, and so Beckett’s tramps hurl insults at each other like two spiteful duellists – joyfully at first, until somebody takes things too far. Edward Albee’s couple, George and Martha, would never have stopped there. In the pantheon of toxic relationships, this New England professor and his wife, the college president’s daughter, are now about as iconic as America’s First Couple, the Washingtons, for whom they are named.
Early in the Gate’s new production of Albee’s still viciously enthralling 1962 play, Denis Conway and Fiona Bell engage in a such battle, until they hit a crescendo and dissolve into laughter. It’s a revealing moment: like those couples who seem to get off on rowing in public, there’s something paradoxically sustaining about these efforts to break each other down. It’s a partnership that is as bitter as it is binding.
But something else holds them together: a shared secret that goes far beyond a game. When they bring a young couple (Mark Huberman and Sophie Robinson) home for a nightcap, over a long night warped with booze, that compact must come to a brutal end. Can they survive without it? Director David Grindley, who expertly conducted The Gigli Concert last year, is just as attentive here to the heartbeats, flutters and attacks of Albee’s classic.
This is a more gruelling experience – through a combination of Jonathan Fensom’s entombing red set, the lengthy duration and Bell’s magnificent performance, you move from being riveted and amused to feeling as drunk and trapped as they do. Unusually for George and Martha, though, that is intended as a compliment.
Until June 11, gatetheatre.ie. See listings, p21, for details