My evening at the Kilkenny arts festival watching Shakespeare Tempest in the grounds of Kilkenny castle.
Or how to ruin a perfectly good park.
I’m guessing Shakespeare wanted to be understood.
But not tonight.
The words of Shakespeare attack us like a venomous army of midges, sentences full of annoying archaic words swarmed our heads.
I’m code breaking and deciphering as fast as I can, another swarm of text charge us, I’m way out of my depth becoming more and more aware of my own ignorance. There is no way I can put together this puzzle word vomit from another century.
However Shakespeare was invoking emotion in me.
I felt the shame of been a dumb fuck who had fail his leaving cert.
Despair that I had wasted 30 odd euro to watch this shit.
And rage that all my bias and disdain about so called high art were all being confirmed.
I imagine Shakespeare wanted to connect with people, his work seemed to deal with big themes about love, loss, politics, and gods; or at least i think so, however for all I know I might have been watching 2 hours of mother in law jokes.
The play was altering my mood for the worst. I was starting to think of Kilkenny as a kind of village of begorra for elderly white middle class Dubliners to use as a beer garden for a jolly arty weekender.
Rough Magic the theatre company responsible for this event had plonked a fully functioning theater in the grounds of Kilkenny castle, minus a roof and walls.
Bravely they chose to ignore that they were on the lush green grounds of a medieval castle. They hoped that people would suspend their reality and imagine that they were in a theater, and in a theater that was pretending to be an island with a bunch of washed up Elizabethan characters.
This was a lot of suspending reality for even the most ardent theater goers. That suspension was tested multiple times with stage invading birds and a golf cart that needed to drive past in the back ground.
The couple in front of us were on their phones looking up a synopsis of the play. From behind we heard a woman whisper, “do you know what the fuck is going on?
To the right of us a gang of women with shopping bags where happily digging into their tins of contraband gin, they seemed to be admiring the trees.
The audience were out performing the performers.
Chins were scratched, ears cocked, mouths a jar and heads a nodding, but hardly anyone knew what the fuck was going on.
A one point an actor intones dramatically with a raised eyebrow signalling a moment of wit. A chuckle dappled over the audience. These were chuckles in small clusters like islands of laughter in a vast ocean of people wondering what they could be streaming on Netflix instead. The chuckle caught the other 90 percent of us by surprise and moments later a less assured chuckle followed. It was the sort of knee jerk reaction chuckle that said “I was listing and I do understand, sure Shakespeare you’re a gas cunt”
And then it ended. My brain was bitter and my arse ached from the plastic chair. A polite clap rose up form the ageing white folk. They looked around with brimming smiles as if complimenting each other on their ability to endure. If being an audience had been a competitive sport, the gleeful over enthusiastic white folk standing without their zimmer frames were the winners.
Then there was an announcement, it wasn’t over, it was just the interval.
We escaped to a dirty chippie.
Sinking our chips into curry sauce we contemplated the spectacle of retired white Irish folk on medication and pints consuming the incomprehensible Tempest.
Fully pensioned and their factualites failing them, they were easy prey.
What couldn’t be finer and more grand than Shakespeare performed outdoors on the opulent grounds of Kilkenny castle.
It will be a great yarn to tell the neighbours.
They of course would never admit that the whole shenanigans went completely over their heads, after all they had spent over 300 euro on the hotel room.
We licked cheap spicy curry from our fingers.
We could hear crackled laughter and thumping tunes coming from some wasteland.
We followed a sewer down towards the repetitive beating, where we found an abandon 80s shopping centre and inside was a DJ playing Dutch Gabba.
Bodies were throwing contorted shapes in deranged strobe lights.
The dripping, stinking sweat and flashing lights turned the crumbling Quinnswroth into a raving storm.
The revellers who were all wearing Kilkenny Arts Festival staff t-shirts were far away from the shores of sanity and riding the bucking waves of ketamine insanity.
The ones that weren’t dancing were drinking form gold chalices brimming over with the blood of the dear old white folk of ireland.
This was a great show.