Monday, May 11, 2009

Who Feedz the Feederz : Anarchy on the 46A

Among the visual dross and wasteful clutter of environmentally hateful corriboard leers which are currently blooming across our byeways, I spotted this nice little agit-prop-grafik on my morning commute. Can't say I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, but it struck me as a beautifully simple, integral piece of work - crafted, thought-provoking and opportunistic. The bubble reads "If you think it is humiliating to be ruled, how much more degrading is it to have to choose your masters?" and the credit is "Courtesy of the Feederz Department for Anti-Public relations." I'm not a sure if the 'choose your masters' quote can be attributed to Frank Discussion himself - any ideas?

The Feederz were one of those anarchist punk concepts that seem so terrifyingly elegant compared to today's cookie-cutter rebels. Lesser known on this side of the pond, for me they sat right in there alongside Jello Biafra, Throbbing Gristle, Crass and all those other Re:search performance-orientated anarchy/industry crossovers. Frankly, for a quiet teenager growing up in rural Wexford the discovery of these would-be destroyers of the free world was both exhilarating and quite bloody scary!

The assault rifle diatribes, blood spattered venues, ribald pseudonyms and General Shocktaktik feel a bit distant now, post-marilyn-manson-the-brand. Especially seeing as the capitalist-godhead-lackeys are doing such a good job of f*cking it all up themselves anyway. And yet?

We've seen renewed engagement from the anarchic spirit of late ; the Mayday riots in Turkey, Germany & Greece didn't get all that much coverage in the mainstream media. Always quite happy to propagate the 'self-styled anarchists' label in favour of the reason behind the protest - with nary any mention of 'self-styled democrats'. Of course outlets like Indymedia have their own editorial bias - but one of the legacies of our stuttering information age looks like the sure proliferation of smaller, idealistic nuclear media channels - information cells? - stealing a march on 'Big Media'.

Just not sure how one should approach a similar dismantling of 'Big Politics'? Other than with a Big Hammer, of course.

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Miller's Tale : All My Sons at The Gate

It seems fitting that The Gate’s production of All My Sons opened on the evening of d'Emergency Budget. Arthur Miller’s first successful play may be set in post-war America, but his underlying criticisms of capitalist immorality have a resonance here on home turf - profiteering fiscal egotism casts a long shadow, the ultimate cost still unclear.

Over three acts, the secrets coiled around the roots of the Keller household are laid bare within a remarkable set – a skillful evocation of post-war suburban affluence - all back porch, shade tree and picket fences. Neighbours pop in and out – no locked doors here – but as the play unfurls, we soon find that all is not quite idyllic.

Eldest son Larry has been missing in action for three years, his mother Kate still nursing unhealthy delusions of his homecoming. Self-made patriarch Joe and their son Chris realise otherwise – but even they can’t guess the full truth of his disappearance. And what of that court case and those flawed cylinder heads, responsible for the deaths of twentyone young airforce flyers? Slowly and painfully, truths emerge into the fading light of a balmy summer evening. What at first seems a family comfortable within their collective skins, soon reveals a host of faultlines, undermining romantic expectations and apparent neighbourly respect with moral culpability.

Money, money, money. Family. Country. World. All hinge on the results of individual decisions. When lust for the good life, and the profits necessary to maintain it, overwhelm the moral centre of any one individual, the resulting horrors can spring from the ground like so many planted dragons teeth.

A skillful ensemble cast brings us deep into the core of the themes here, with several stand out performances; Garett Lombard, in particular, shines with an immaculately paced performance as the idealistic Chris, conflicted between love, duty and battle-hardened morality. A classy production of a classic drama - well worth a look.

All My Sons run at The Gate Theatre has been extended due to popular demand until 13 June 2009, 8.00pm 
nightly. A version of this review originally appeared in the Evening Herald, 8.5.09

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Twisted Visions : Social Scenery

The Social (previously MASH) - hit a new level last Sunday. The addition of the UV 'glow' factor, a couple of new additions to the ranks of doodlers and an influx of bank holiday party animals made for a real zippy evening as the crowd (and graphics) jostled for space in the Twisted Pepper. Being an auld fella, I sloped off around 1 am, just as a whole other level was kicking in. A pleasant stroll back through mild, busy, but good-natured Dublin streets and a chatty taxi trip home wrapped up an evening that started out catching up with a couple of old artschool buddies. Earlier in the day, I'd been to see Coraline (absolutely beautiful, BTW!) in the company of several very excitable seven and eight year olds, all of which made this a bizarrely 'indoors', yet hugely enjoyable bank holiday sunday. More Social pics here.