Get Cultured — September 5, 2017 at 12:25 pm

“Charolais” Shows the True Nature of Love

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Love is such a funny thing. Love changes by season, by location. What’s romantic and what’s not changes with each person’s idea of what love should be. Ideas that are often too myopic sadly create an illusionary pedestal which real love often can’t reach. What love really is… is messy. Hard. It’s challenging and it mostly comes by surprise. And with its fair share of ridiculous circumstances. This is what Fishamble’s “Charolais” sets itself to explore, that strange world in which love becomes, well… real love.

Written and performed by the magnificent Noni Stapleton, “Charolais” follows the life of a woman in rural ireland and her love for a French boor who lives nearby. Oh! And also her competition with a cow for his attention… and his mother, since he is also a mama’s boy. See? Love is messy, and Stapleton does a great job on showing us exactly how absurd is the nature of who we fall for.

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Let’s talk about her performance before I talk about anything else. Stapleton creates a character that is both funny and heartbreaking, a sort of walking contradiction that relies on her known life but always wants more. She wants the romance, but gets none of it. She wants the husband, but not even a kid makes her a priority. She wants to be happy with him, but she spends more time with his mother… who also makes them sleep in different beds. This is a play that follows a woman that holds her tears between her laughter, and Stapleton brings each scenario to life in front of us to perfection.

Director Bairbre Ní Chaoimh, in conjunction with Miriam Duffy (costume design), and Jack Cawley (sound design), construct a world on stage where Stapleton can comfortably become the character. From the set, which uses its minimalism to maximum effect, to the sound design, which transports us to their world, this is a an impressive production. Every part is essential, and every aspect is in capable hands.

Last time I saw a Fishamble production, it was the fantastic and bold “Little Thing, Big Thing,” which was unique and possibly one of the best thrillers I’ve experienced Off-Broadway. “Charolais” follows suit, by giving us such a strong and hilarious examination of what love means. Fishamble creates theatrical experiences that push the boundaries of what’s accepted as the norm, and I can only be so grateful for that.

Out of 4 stars:

3-5-stars3

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