Skip to main content

Enda Walsh – Music, Theatre and The Last Hotel

There has always been a musical pulse to Enda Walsh's writing, ever since the Dublin-born playwright burst onto the international stage in 1996 with Disco Pigs, his ferocious teenage love story that turned a nineteen-year Cillian Murphy into a star. The rhythmic rush of adolescent slang that fired Walsh's career-making play has led to a prolific canon both on stage and screen.

Walsh's script written with Steve McQueen for McQueen's Michael Fassbender-starring film, Hunger, was praised, while a move into musical theatre with Once saw the Broadway production of a show featuring music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova scoop eight Tony Awards, a Grammy and two Olivier Awards.

Furthering his relationship with music, Walsh is currently under commission to write Jules in the City, a film based on the life and times of singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright, a man himself no stranger to combining music and theatre. Then there is a mooted collaboration between Walsh and David Bowie, no less, which will see the pair work together on Lazarus, a new musical play set to be premiered in New York later this year. Lazarus is based on Walter Tevis' science-fiction novel, The Man Who Fell To Earth, which was famously filmed by Nicolas Roeg in 1976, with Bowie himself playing the lead role of an emigre alien.

With such a lively music-based back catalogue, Walsh's first foray into opera with The Last Hotel is a seamlessly natural move for this most restlessly experimental of writers. Set in a hotel full of fly-by-night comings and goings and potentially dangerous liaisons, The Last Hotel looks at matters of life and an inevitable death with a prevailing sense of unease that often lurks behind the nervous energy of Walsh's work.

The Last Hotel also sees Walsh reunited with Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, who he first worked with on his solo play, Misterman, again performed by Murphy. Dennehy is co-founder of the twelve-strong contemporary music based Crash Ensemble, who perform Walsh and Dennehy's savagely dark chamber noir in a presentation by Landmark Productions, the Irish theatre company behind Once, and Wide Open Opera.

The fact that all The Last Hotel's creatives are countrymen of Walsh's makes for a shared sensibility that should pay dividends in this new piece. Walsh's track record of exploring the often absurd extremes of the Irish psyche, after all, looks to the gallows humour of his literary forbears such as Beckett and Joyce whilst retaining a thoroughly twenty-first century sense of the ridiculous. This should see this new creation going for a lot more than a song.

The Last Hotel, Royal Lyceum Theatre, August 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 8pm.
www.eif.co.uk

Commissioned by Edinburgh International Festival for their Opera Highlights magazine, August 2015.

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…

Pauline Knowles - An Obituary

Pauline Knowles – Actress
Born December 16 1967; died October 17 2018
Pauline Knowles, who has died suddenly of a heart attack aged 50, was one of the most powerful stage actresses of her generation. Over more than twenty years, Knowles brought a quiet intensity and fierce intelligence to every part she played. This was the case when she played the barely articulate rural woman in Philip Howard’s original 1995 Traverse Theatre production of David Harrower’s modern classic, Knives in Hens. It was still the case when Knowles gave a ferociously contemporary portrayal of Clytemnestra in This Restless House, Zinnie Harris’ stunning reinvention of Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy directed by Dominic Hill at the Citizens Theatre with the National Theatre of Scotland twenty-one years later.
Knowles occupied both roles with an innate sense of each woman’s everyday ordinariness in ways that made their experiences totally recognisable. As a result, however extreme their actions and however powerful the…

The Duke

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Shon Dale-Jones seems like a very nice chap. You can tell from the way he welcomes each member of the audience into the theatre, shaking them by the hand to a soundtrack of energising 1960s feel-good soul. Such a personable approach helps create a warm and intimate atmosphere, so when he sits at a desk with only a laptop, a volume control and us for company, you can’t help but be charmed from the start of this hour-long foray, both into his own fantastical mind as well as the discursive set of first-world contradictions it lets loose into the world.
It begins with a Royal Worcester porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which Dale-Jones’ dad bought in 1974 for £750. This would make it worth more than £8,000 in today’s money if his mum hadn’t broken it while dusting. This is just one more thing for Dale-Jones to think about as he attempts to apply a script doctor’s ruthless critique onto a film script he’s been working on for a deca…