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Anonymous – Article on HowlRound by Laura Mariott, April 8th 2017 (Full Article Here)
“(…)Ireland’s current bleak economic reality also serves as the backdrop for another recent small scale production produced by Purple Hare Theatre Company, that examines an important social issue. Taking place above a city centre pub at the improvised theatre space The International Bar, Mark Richardson’s Anonymous is about homelessness. It is about how men with jobs and families end up living on the streets. How they survive and how friendship and art can provide hope in even the darkest corners. One of the main characters, Sean, is a poet. This is something he largely keeps secret, writing his thoughts in his notebooks, the only items he has left that are his. Under Nathalie Clement’s able direction, we see how writing helps Sean to feel human and fill his endless days. It might also be his only way out of poverty.
The two central characters Sean and Dolan are both men who once lived in relative comfort until bereavement and unemployment tore their lives apart. No one wanted things to turn out the way that they did. Anonymous highlights how everyone is just a step or two away from losing everything. The staging echoes the narrative. Sean, played by Zeff Lawless, makes his home on the floor; alone, next to bags of garbage. When Lawless speaks though, the audience hears someone ostracized from society who they can also relate to. Richardson manages to bring empathy back into the conversation around homelessness.
Walking out of the play, I noticed people huddled in sleeping bags in shop doorways, and it was a startling reminder that homelessness is all around us. The play works to humanize people we might otherwise walk past, feet quickening, eyes averted. By introducing the audience to individuals who just happen to sleep on the streets the audience respond to their humanity and real human fears and hopes.
At the moment theatre productions such as The Collector and Anonymous are tackling important issues that affect the audiences’ everyday lives. As older, more traditional ideas of masculinity, of how to live and work are being challenged on all fronts, the theatre is serving as one stage where these issues can be worked through. “
Review on The Reviews Hub, January 19th 2017 (Full Review Here)
‘I am homeless. I have no name’. For homeless men living on the streets of Dublin it can seem as though they are stripped of their identity; histories, talents and even names. Mark Richardson’s Anonymous seeks to undo this. Dolan is new to the streets and it shows. Despite having no shoes on he is still clean and somewhat green; willing to trust in others and have faith. He opens himself up and is vulnerable when talking about how he came to be on the streets. For Dolan his life may not be a long harsh process of homelessness but for older associate Sean, it is.
Sean doesn’t have friends. He doesn’t have a name either. Or at least that is what he tells people. It soon becomes clear however that he is someone others turn to for advice and comfort. Slow to talk about himself he chooses to protect himself with the invisibility that comes with being looked over hundreds of times a day. He is the self – proclaimed oldest homeless man in Dublin and knows how to survive with little else except his notebooks. The staging and costumes are relatively simple. Rubbish and fallen leaves are bundled up in a corner. The two main characters are armed with only their backpacks, some cardboard and the items on their bodies to protect them from the elements. Over time we learn that Sean is a poet.
Some of the play is delivered in verse, and poetry is integral to the nature of Anonymous . The language used is frequently lyrical and used to underscore humorous moments. It is important to note that this play is not gloomy or self-righteous but instead has many scenes which are funny and hopeful. Which also helps to show how the homeless are still people with minds who create and value art; for themselves and for others. Can art be a way out of poverty? There are several points of heightened emotion in the play, including the ending that could do with a little sharpening to really touch the audience.
Closing with multiple curtain calls after a surprising ending Anonymous is an important and valuable play that can both entertain and touch the heart of the audience. On the streets around The International Bar people are sleeping in shop doorways and begging for money to pay for a hostel bed. It is a sobering reminder that this play draws on what is for many a way of life.
Audience Reviews (January 2017 run)
“This play is amazing…Wonderfully served by Nathalie Clement’s direction, Mark Richardson’s beautifully written script leads the audience through a reflection on homelessness in our society. Always poetic, sometimes dramatic, the play is also funny and entertaining. Casting and actor’s performance are on point… Zeff, Brendan, Conor, Nathalie and Joe give life to their character in a realistic yet so endearing way. Zeff Lawless is outstanding in the part of Sean the poet. This is a must-see play!”
“Went to see this play last night and was completely blown away. (…) The play has many facets which will humour you, frighten you and enlighten you to human life on the streets of Dublin. (…) The acting was mesmerizing and so realistic. (…) You forgot that you were in a theatre and not on the streets of Dublin.”
“We loved every minute of it and the cast were fantastic! Such a beautifully captivating story.”
“It’s a fantastic piece of writing, beautifully performed and directed and is so current and relevant.”
“Go see it if you can, it’s impressive, light, an eye-opener and you’re gonna be richer person coming out of there.”
“Anonymous is an important and valuable play that can both entertain and touch the heart of the audience”
“Well rounded characters and endearing ones, go see for yourself.”
“You’ll have to go along to see this play. It is well written, directed and performed.”