The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh
Director: Enda Walsh
Reviewer: John Roberts
Enda Walsh is having a very successful time out of the London theatre going audience at the moment, with his play The Walworth Farce going from strength to strength at the National Theatre and now his latest play The New Electric Ballroom having it's London transfer at The Riverside Studio's.
This latest production focuses us on the lives of three women living in a remote fishing village, and how two of them hold on to their more romantic or not so as the case tends to be memories of the New Electric Ballroom. These memories of Breda (played with a powerful matriarchal strength by Rosaleen Linehan) and Clara (given a worthy portrayal by Ruth McCabe) hold them almost hostage on a daily basis to their repetitive lives of baking cakes, cups of tea and the over powering element of Ada who could be a third sister (Catherine Walsh) and regular visits from the Local fishmonger Patsy - played with real relish and comedic flair but also with heartbreaking sympathy that sometimes is actually quite hard to watch by Mikel Murfi.
There is no doubting that Enda Walsh is a very gifted writer, this could have been a show given the subject matter another attempt at creating a modern day Chekov, but missing out on the comedic almost surreal elements that take place in our lives. But here Walsh writes with a real flair, his language is almost poetic and at times bringing a brutal but emotional truth to his characters.
This production is given a very cold and open, almost medical set designed by Sabine Dargent who also with her costume designs really add to the banal existent of these rural sisters and their daily routines. Walsh also directs this production, but one asks questions about some of his directorial choices, for example the almost robotic opening just doesn't give justice to the beauty of the words that he has penned and forces the audience to connect on an almost inhuman level, its only when the piece progresses do we slowly start to empathise with the sad and lonley existance of the characters within the piece.
This is a production that flows with pathos and humour and the lyrical nature of the piece holds its own as a strong and worthy contender of anyones money in these hard economic times, when your choice of show really does count.
The New Electric Ballroom runs at the Riverside Studios until Sunday 29th March 2009