Bird Watching in Galway

I joined the Club of the Unloved last Saturday and can highly recommend the experience. It split me up and blew me away. It was set in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway – a city last weekend thronging with arts festivities and sunshine – a heady combination.

The show, ‘Tristan and Yseult’, was a pizza of a performance: a high dough of olives, cheese, anchovies, squashed tomatoes, capers, magic mushroom, sprinkled with pepper and cumin seeds. The taste of drama, dance, humour was set to a music mix of Wagner, Daft Punk and Roy Orbison. What delectable joy. It all combined to make my tongue sizzle and hang out. It was performed by a Cornwall based company, Highknee, that, to quote the brochure, ‘creates vigorous, popular and challenging theatre and performs with joyful activity.’ The set was clever and the story was staged in the Club of the Unloved where all the characters were dressed at some point in the garb of bird watchers with binoculars. Kneehigh regaled the epic story with flare, arrow points, and a spirit that made me laugh and cry. It was theatre at its best.

Following the matinée, the good humour continued as we weaved our way through Galway’s lanes and found our own perch to watch a different performance: that of Quay Street on a summer Saturday night of sun. The ever-flowing river of pale, usually tired, sometimes happy, often gormless, occasionally angry faces make me ‘wonder’ and create my own stories. I once wrote a short story about the flow of the Galway lanes where the ‘flow’ was employed and controlled by Galway City Council.

The ‘flow’ of the weekend continued over wine, tapenade and crisps with friends. It was a heady mix of poetics and politics which always puts me in a good mood, particularly when nesting with poets who are also political egg heads.

The final egg head event of the weekend took place, appropriately enough, at the University with Colm Tóibín and Catriona Perry (the Irish Times Washington Correspondent) discussing the ‘Impact of Power.’ Colm Tóibín who, (to continue the bird watching theme), reminds me of peacock and a humming bird combined, was good. He wove a story around Trump that illustrated chaos, controversy, and anarchy with a strong (to continue the theme of flow) under-current of fear. He created for me a creature true to the American myth of the self-made man of the American dream now morphed into a dastardly but truly unpleasant cartoon character inserted in a Shakespearean tragedy of epic proportions. It was entertaining. Colm Tóibín is lovely to watch: his rubbery, egghead face rumples and contorts with intelligence, his hands gesticulate with flourish and his words whistle and flow. This time he outshone his co-conversationalist who was rather disappointing, with no original insights. She reminded me (six inch heels, slender legs) of a stork on its way to an abortion clinic. It must be the suggestion of Armageddon that Trump inspires.

All in all, a great weekend.


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