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A Bit of ‘Craic’ with Andrew Shaver, Director of TRAD

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By Sharman Yarnell for Curtains Up

It’s absurd, it’s surreal, it’s dark, it’s hysterical, it’s traditional. It’s TRAD.  Opening at The Centaur Theatre February 26, TRAD is written by Irish playwright Mark Doherty, and is directed by Andrew Shaver. And of course, Doherty has experience as an actor and stand up comedian which is why this piece of work is so creative.This isn’t the first time Shaver has performed in the play but it is the first time he has directed it. And it is the collective, SideMart Theatrical Grocery, that is performing the show with him again. Patrick Costello, Graham Cutherbertson and designer Sarah Yaffe are all part of the team.

What immediately caught my eye about TRAD, was it was originally written by Doherty for radio. It won the BBC Radio Drama Award in 2004. (We once had top class radio drama here in Montreal at the CBC but that has been cut, done away with, obliterated by the powers that be. Shame – but that’s another story.) It also won the Edinburgh Fringe First when adapted for the stage.

TRAD has received accolades whenever performed. The first time here in Montreal in 2007 at The Segal. Irish Montrealers especially, will love the show, full of traditional music, traditional comedy, traditional storytelling. Have you figured out this is where the title comes from? – TRAD? If there’s one thing the Irish excel in, it’s storytelling.  They can spin a yarn for a tourist asking for simple traffic directions so much so, said tourist won’t remember the question he originally asked by the time the Irishman’s finished talking.

What a great time to be mounting an Irish production – we are already into the ‘Green Month’ and to make things even more perfect, the rehearsals for TRAD were held in Griffintown, a most well-known, historic Irish area in Montreal.

But even the non-Irish will revel in this love story of a man and his son searching for the last person remaining in their family. Thomas is 100 years old, has one arm and his ‘Da’ has a wooden leg. The two head off on a search across Ireland to find that one last descendant, the result of a fling Thomas had 70 years earlier.

Shaver has “rediscovered the music of the writing and comedy, with focus on the rhythms of the text and language”. That’s what is great about doing a show more than once – all those new discoveries. And also good are the things remembered that really worked well, “…we took all the good things remembered from the original set and recreated them”.

When discussing the play, he referred to it as “grotesquely comic, a cross between Monty Python and Beckett”.  I see a strong influence of the eponymous Father Ted in the script. Now that ought to get everyone’s attention. (Father Ted was an Irish television series featuring Dermot Morgan as a raunchy Irish priest who was banished to Craggy Island – very upsetting to some viewers and outrageously funny to others. I am of the latter.
If there is one thing that Shaver wishes the audience to leave the theatre with after experiencing TRAD it’s, “soreness from laughter, and warm hearts from the father and son relationship – because it is a love story”. Now aren’t we all due a moment such as that?

I suggest you get your tickets asap because Montreal’s Irish community is itchn’ to get to this one and you know how many of us there are.

TRAD opens at The Centaur Theatre on February 26 and runs until March 24
For more information:http://www.centaurtheatre.com
Box Office:  514-288-3161

 

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