Ballyturk wowed audiences at the Galway Arts Festival in July but that’s probably not the only reason we’re queuing up for a seat in the Gods.
Does anyone remember when Ralph Fiennes performed in Brian Friel’s Faith Healer at The Gate? I do, distinctly. Tickets sold out in record time and I spent several weeks calling the box office, holding and praying for a cancellation. My own faith eventually paid off.
These types of sales aren’t common, fortunately. But a big name changes things. Fortunately in this case the big name, Cillian Murphy, is performing at The Olympia so the capacity far exceeds the almost intimate Gate Theatre. Nevertheless, I found myself queuing last week for the last of the seats for Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk. A few days later I found myself in another peculiar queue; hundreds of Dubliners in line for The Olympia, in excess of half an hour before the curtain. And for once it wasn’t budget, but demand that had so many vying for the cheap seats at the back.
Cillian Murphy, Mikel Murfi and Stephen Rea star in the most talked about play this year, challenging, baffling and entertaining audiences in equal measure. Ballyturk is a fictional town in Ireland and it centres on two unnamed characters (Murphy and Murfi) confined from the world outside, wondering what is outside and what it’s all about. Voices from outside infiltrate their prison; voices they recognise and can imagine, but don’t actually know.
Then comes the third character (Rea). He’s pointedly different; a cool counterpoint to characters 1 and 2. He’s Godly or at least other-worldly. The well made Waiting for Godot references we’ve heard make sense here – Walsh, perhaps, has given Godot the chance to arrive. His presence, however, the unknown scares them, disturbs their world as they know it. What’s it all about, we wonder. Do we really want to know?
Ballyturk is an unusual piece of theatre. It won’t leave audiences short of questions but neither is it short on entertainment. The movement and energy in the play is a triumph. The characters smash and bang, sing and dance, play and sleep, dream and fit over the 90 minutes. It’s a hugely physical performance, that’s sure to delight theatre-goers, but not without nuance and certainly not without ambiguity.
There are limited seats remaining. Ballyturk runs until Saturday 23rd August.
72, Dame Street
Tel: 01 679 3323
All photos via Ballyturk website; © Patrick Redmond 2014