BWW Review: IT'S MY PARTY CONFERENCE (AND I'LL CRY IF I WANT TO) - Send In the Clowns
Think politics is a dirty business? Try your hand at Arts Council funding.
Stefanie Preissner has found herself in a position not dissimilar to Micheál Martin's at the 2012 Ard Fheis: having to apologise. Her new play I'm Fianna Fáiling For You, investigating the inheritance of political ideologies, was already promised to the Tiger Dublin Fringe when her funding application was unsuccessful.
It makes sense to back Preissner. Her 2012 hit Solpadeine is my Boyfriend, under its wry sparkling rhymes, managed to convey a nation dissolving through emigration. To recover from this setback, she has gathered a panel of contributors for a once-off performance, each under different circumstances: Fringe director Kris Nelson, inheriting debt from a previous administration; spin doctor Terry Prone, reminded of her Abbey Theatre days in the 1970s; and actor Ruth Hegarty, previously committed to perform in the unproduced play.
Essentially a stage reading with the writer off-script, Preissner's text contains extracts from Fianna Fáiling, and responses filtered through the guests' different perspectives. The programmer persona of Nelson finds the work covering too familiar ground to Solpadeine and points to its dramaturgical elements, while Hegarty relates to and challenges the emotional nuances of the work. Prone is obsessed with the clarity of the message: "Why does it rhyme?".
In having to defend her vision, the playwright presents an event that is not really about politics (hopefully the results of I'm Fianna Fáiling For You will someday see the light of day). Playing with the iconography of previous shows, she stages the artist's struggle for vindication and defence of their vision. Preissner reminds that she's not just cheeky glances and comic exteriors, as with revelatory range she releases the disappointed voice in Stephen Sondheim's Send in the Clowns. "Well maybe next year" she coos.