Date Show | Preview
The MAC, Belfast • 31 January – 04 February ’18
By Conor O’Neill
There’s an old Chinese proverb/threat, ‘May you live in interesting times.’ To Brit-poppers Blur, Modern Life is Rubbish, while Dave Gorman thinks it’s ‘Goodish’. What we’ll all agree on is modern life is confusing as hell; especially when it comes to dating.
Wednesday 31 January sees Threes Theatre Company’s second-ever show open at Belfast’s MAC theatre and it’s all about the quagmire that is modern dating. CultureHUB caught up with creative director and producer Anna Leckey and director, Colm G Doran to get the low down. An interesting duo, one starts a sentence and another finishes it or goes off on a tangent. 20 minutes with the pair and yours truly left the MAC dizzy but intrigued.
To those of you unaware of the pair, as I was, here’s a quick bio. For their relative youth, their credentials hold up. Lecky (24) studied drama and performance studies at London Southbank University, while Doran (26) graduated from Queen’s after reading drama and English before completing an MA in Broadcast Literacy. With only 50 years on planet earth between them, they’ve achieved quite a bit. Leckey started Threes Theatre Company last year and has after her first play Thinking About Thoughts she now begins her three-month stint as artist in residence at the MAC. Doran has been behind the pen as a theatre reviewer before realising he couldn’t live without being involved in producing and directing theatre. Scratch Nights with Accidental Theatre company, Greenshoot Productions’ Ten Days That Shook Belfast, Karma Theatre Company’s Floral Nights all sit nicely on his CV, not to mention the success of last year’s The Dumb Waiter at the Lyric, which he produced.
Before the interview, Doran sent a brief synopsis which whetted my whistle no end. There’s a menu, yes, you read that correctly. There are literally two plays going on all over the MAC at the same time. Simply pay your 15 quid and pick the blue pill or the red. Leckey explains: “There’s one piece called Travel Through Time which is about an older couple and how they tried to find that love they felt years ago at the dancehall. Now in 2018, we have all the dating sites and apps people are now disposable, you look for the flaws very quickly. The older couple, they went through things together, that’s the crux of the show.
Doran expands: “When we started rehearsing each playlet, I made sure that our intention was comparing whatever this date was that generational dancehall ideal of love that our parents and grandparents experienced. Where do we fit in with that? How much have we strayed from that?”
I ask is one option optimistic and the other negative? Leckey: “The whole thing to me and how I want Three Theatre Company to continue is to give a little bit of choice to the audience. Whenever the audience arrives, say, if you were to come with a date or as a couple, we’d ideally like you to choose different menus so you experience two completely different shows and then at the end you have at least something to talk about.”
And the target audience, you mentioned couples picking different shows, is the show aimed at couples? Leckey jumps in with an emphatic: “No, no, no! It’s completely relatable to everyone and because there’s such a generational gap in every scene, every scene is aimed to encompass.” Doran follows on: “And it’s not always the good side of dating, it’s not about drifting over the hill. There’s blind-dates, final dates and so on. The show is not a patronising look about ‘aren’t you awful for being single, this is what you should be or you’re only one half of a whole if you’re not in a relationship’. This is about a journey, it’s many different looks on the spectrum of love, why we look for love, what is our drive for love, or are you just out for a good time.”
Readers will also be happy to read Leckey chose to work with as many different writers as possible and approach every scene with varying technological techniques. Doran elaborates: “There’s a piece about a love expert, he gives out advice and it’s set in a seminar. His motto is, ‘Give Love a Shove from Above sponsored by a Dove’. He’s a sham and you can see it, but you can buy love and it’s not just a magical fairy tale. John Patrick Higgins wrote a piece called I Will Not Be swiped. We start that scene in the ladies’ toilets, it’s a blind date and goes on to be a role-play date where each pretends to be a spy.”
Quick as lightning Anna interjects: “Christopher Grant wrote Always, Sometimes, Never which is about a guy looking for love, while Scampi, Chips and Tartar Sauce are a comedy trio and their piece Black Date is a comedy of errors. Jordan Hannah wrote Ben and Cathy that’s downstairs and we’re using a little bit of technology on that one. Other writers include Joseph Nawaz, Jessica Samoy Plunkett and Sophie Flight.
I ask more about the technology? Colm explains: “Anna, at the start said she was keen to use a lot of tech within the show. From my background, though I’m not completely oblivious to technology, I’m used to shoe-string budgets and thought well ‘if we can physicalize it or act it, we’ll do it that way’. Anna came from a different position and said ‘No! This is how we’re going to push from and if we can’t, we’ll find another way to put tech into it.” Leckey doesn’t want to give too much away but confides that there’s an aural piece without actors and other surprises in store whichever menu you choose.
The cast consists of 11 actors, plus the Scampi, Chips and Tartar Sauce crew, all of them new to my eyes. But as this is a fresh theatre group with even fresher ideas, I have faith and look forward to the 31 January… whichever menu I choose.
The MAC site states tickets are selling fast. To book yours and dip your imagination into the vortex of modern dating visit www.themaclive.com or phone the box office on 02890 235053. Tickets cost £15: Times: 31 Jan 6.30pm and 9pm: 01 Feb 6.30pm and 9pm: 02 Feb 9.30pm: 03 Feb 1pm, 4pm, 6.30pm and 9pm: 04 Feb 1pm, 4pm and 6.30pm.