The sun shone yesterday, and despite running slightly late, getting snarled up in roadworks on the M1 and the tail end of some accident somewhere, we made it to London just in time to scarf down a load of Pad Thai and then head to see Ballyturk at the National.
Reviews have been mixed, mainly, it has to be said, for the playwright and the play rather than the actors, who are all universally lauded. The reviews say that this kind of material by Enda Walsh is getting very old hat, and he isn’t saying anything new about the state of the nation, the inside of his brain etc.
Me, I don’t care about that.
This is only the second play of Walsh’s that I have seen. I haven’t had time to get bored of it yet, and even if I had, I wonder if I would be.
You see, I’m not really looking to be enlightened, shown something infinitely novel or special. I have seen Hamlet maybe a dozen times in my life so far, for example. I expect to see it at least a handful of times more. I don’t expect it to be novel. I don’t expect them to reinvent the wheel. I love it for what it is.
Sometimes I will see something in it I might have missed. Sometimes I will see it in a novel way, but mostly I’ll be going because it’s a pretty good play and I want to see it again.
I want to be enthralled, and entertained, and immersed in the world that is put before me on the stage.
This is what happened to me yesterday when I went to see Ballyturk. I laughed. I got a bit choked. I cared. I entered into the world on the stage. I believed what I was seeing happen between these people, even though I didn’t fully understand it. I didn’t care that I didn’t really understand it. I just enjoyed 90 minutes of epic acting from three fantastic actors who were more than a match for each other, and whose energy pushed them right out from where they were standing into my heart and mind and brain.
The virtuosity of the language matched the adrenalin fuelled antics on stage. The verbal dexterity matched sweat drop for sweat drop the sheer physicality of what we were watching.
I don’t know how they do that twice a day. I really don’t.
Some people have said it’s a bit like Beckett. I guess it is, a bit. Any slightly surreal play with Irish actors in it is always going to be compared to Beckett. I think it’s a bit of a cheap comparison to be honest. Some people have compared it to Under Milk Wood, and I like that more. It does share some similarities, spinning stories about a community out of the power of the imagination and the flexibility of the human voice.
Mostly I don’t really mind what it was like. I liked what it was.
If you can get tickets and you don’t mind plays that are a bit weird, and that leave you feeling slightly unsure about the way the universe is made up, I really think you ought to go.