There was a certain weight of expectation given the quality of Nolan's canon but Dreamland delivered with a strong cast of no less than eight players and the quality of the writing. The play is set in a 1930's seaside village. The plot hinges on an imaginative but deluded scheme to open a theme park in a seaside town set against a backdrop of the political tensions of lingering civil war resentments and the repressive activities of a quasi-fascist movement. The international context is referenced with the arrival a Jewish clarinet player and his daughter played by Michael Power and Holly Browne. There are resonances with Nolan's play, The Salvage Shop with gas masks and a 1930's generator featuring in the clever set set design by Dermot Quinn. The struggle against fascism was a central element also of The Guernica Hotel set in the Spanish Civil War premiered at Garter Lane in 1994.
|Playwright Jim Nolan|
It was wonderful to see and hear the stagecraft in the sage like Doc played by veteran actor, Des Keogh. Brendan Conroy plays Kinnane a returned Yank, a Quixotic character full of hope and schemes. The title refers to his plan to convert the bones of a washed up whale into a tourist attraction in a bid to recreate a happier time in his past. He forms an extended family grouping of sorts with Doc, his grandson Dinny, (Conall Keating) and widow, Grace (Catherine Walsh). There is real menace in the portrayal of Blueshirt characters by Karl Shiels and Michael Quinlan. It is perhaps the authors' most autobiographical play to date with events from his own experience knitted into the thread of the play. You can read an interview with the author in a the Irish Examiner here . A link to the 1987 radio documentary about the anti jazz campaign and the Duignan brothers is here http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/jazz.html
Dreamland runs nightly at Garter Lane Arts until March 1st and then tours nationally
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listen to ‘Audience Reaction to Dreamland’ on Audioboo WLR recorded audience reaction in this audioboo