Since Evelyn came along in December 2009, I can probably count on one hand the number of times Frank and I have been out alone. Seriously.
Last night, we got a chance to have a great evening to ourselves in Dublin, courtesy of Frank’s lovely mother, June, acting as babysitter. I’ve heard great things about The Gate Theatre’s production of the classic “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte, so I used my Christmas bonus from work and splurged on tickets for a performance.
We took the 5:30 Matthews bus up to Parnell Street and from there had time for a nice, quick drink at Toddy’s, the cozy bar and brasserie attached to the opulent Gresham Hotel on O’Connell Street. Shame we didn’t have time for dinner – the food looked and smelled amazing.
I have never been inside The Gate, though I’ve passed it dozens of times. I was surprised – when I picked my tickets online, it looked like quite a large theatre space, but when we got inside, it felt much more intimate. On doing a quick Google search, I actually found an article that said it is the former Grand Supper Room of the Rotunda, which totally makes sense when you see it. The decor was goreous, with crown molding and chandeliers, just perfect for the Regency era of the play. During the intermission, coffee was served in pretty china cups and saucers, while down a curvy corridor was an old oak bar where you could find something stronger.
The play itself was very good, probably the best I’ve seen in some years! Acting, costumes, set design, lighting, sound, all excellent. I found it very interesting to see the use of a raked, or tilted stage. This is something I remember reading about in college as an old-fashioned technique to create depth of field, but I’ve never actually seen it done!!! Really cool.
The fine quality of the play was largely influenced by its simplicity. Even Frank commented on how nice it was to have everything work together so smoothly without a load of bells and whistles to distract your attention.
The lead roles were very well-played, mainly Stephen Brennan and Andrea Corr. We also really enjoyed watching the roles played by Peter Gaynor (who happens to be the brother of one of our good friends, Dan Gaynor). I foolishly didn’t realize Andrea Corr was such a respected actress – like most Americans, I only knew her from her family and their 1990s Irish pop group The Coors. She definitely proved herself to me as an accomplished and versatile performer in this role, though I did smile when she delivered her first lines because her voice was sooo recognizable!
My only small criticism of the play was that it seemed at times to be too comedic – not quite irreverant, but a little bit camp – during dramatic moments. Now, I’ve been involved with the performing arts long enough to realize this can be wholly dictated by a certain evening’s audience and the energy floating around the place… but if it was a director’s choice, I think it should have been reconsidered. Incidentally, the play was adapted and directed by the same man, Alan Stanford, who seems to specialize in these sorts of historic gems (Dickens, Austen, etc.) specifically for The Gate. I look forward to seeing more from him!
All in all, I found the evening most enjoyable. It’s great to get all dressed up and go out with your handsome spouse for an evening of intelligent entertainment, don’t you think? I love silly movies and nights at the pub as much as anyone, but I have to say it felt really good to stretch my mind again. The Cosmopolitan at Toddy’s wasn’t bad either. Or the Chinese take-out on the way home, for that matter. 🙂
Sorry we only took one picture – it was Frank’s night off, too!!!