Jacques Brel is alive and well and Living in Paris, Gate Theatre, Dublin
On Monday 30th January last I had a very entertaining, engaging and uplifting theatre experience at The Gate Theatre’s production of “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” at The Gate Theatre Dublin.
This very entertaining, different and uplifting musical revue appears to be set in an abandoned dilapidated Parisian Saloon which in turn is the Gate’s auditorium extended onto the stage and then ravaged. It is an appropriate and appealing design solution an a setting that provides a comfortable environment for Brel’s gritty songs
The production was directed by Alan Stanford, Set and Costumes Designed by Alyson Cummins, Lighting Design by James McConnell, Hair and Make-up Design Anne Dunne, Musical Director Cathal Synnott.
Aylson Cummins presents the performance space as a derelict, once grand interior echoing the interior structure and style of auditorium. The plasterwork on the frieze is broken and soiled, plaster has fallen off the walls and ceiling, in fact the centre of the ceiling is missing, the void rimmed with the remains of broken ceiling laths which act as gobos, making moody, atmospheric streaked patterns of light on the walls. Some of the wall masonry is exposed through fallen plaster, dust detritus abandoned fixtures and fittings dress the edges and corners. In the midst of all this there are musical instruments, an upright piano, a drum kit, guitars, a double bass, tables and chairs.
I found the corners where the structural plains of the set converged lightly empty and may have benefited from some vertical dressings such as lengths of salvaged floor boards, stored curtain poles, a wooden window cleaners ladder.
The cast drift into the space as if they are a commune of squatters or a group of friends with common, shared purpose. They are of the 1940s in appearance and attire. The performers warm up, tune up into a roller coaster evening of music and song.
The overall collaboration between Set, Costume, Lighting Design, Hair and Makeup and the robust, emotive, gritty performances by the cast, supported by the quartet gives for a very immersive, enjoyable and uplifting evening.
Costume Design was effective in giving the characters a credible appearance/sense of period and place. At times the costumes were used as action props, enabled the performers to change in and out of characters in a smooth choreographed way.
James Mc Connell,s Lighting Design in sync with Alan Stanford’s Direction, the wonderful, energetic performances from Risteárd Cooper, Karen Mc Cartney, Stephanie Mc Keon and Rory Nolan combined with Cathal Synnott’s Musical Direction made for some modest surprise dramatic moments. There were also moments when, in my opinion, when the business directions detracted from the performance and from the singing of Brel’s works.
Alan Stanford, http://www.gatetheatre.ie/section/JaneEyre2010AlanStanford
Alyson Cummins, https://alysoncummins.com/
Set & Costume Design: http://stageandscreendesignireland.ie/designers/alyson-cummins/
James McConnell, http://www.gatetheatre.ie/section/JaneEyre2010JamesMcConnell
Lighting Designer: http://www.irishplayography.com/person.aspx?personid=2068
Hair & Make-Up Designer: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0242818/
Musical Director: http://www.irishplayography.com/person.aspx?personid=19811
Gate Theatre: http://www.gatetheatre.ie/
See also: Photos by Pat Redmond at: