The Gigli Concert

10 Apr

To be honest, I didn’t understand this play.

A man suffers from depression. (I appreciate the clinical term can misrepresent the experience.) The man runs a counseling service based on Dynamatology, a system of seeming psycho-babble. He gets no clients. One day another man knocks on his door and asks for help. He too suffers from depression. (see note above). I’m not sure he warms to the label. He doesn’t like philosophy or psychology. What he wants is to be able to sing like the opera singer Gigli. Their sessions begin. There is no attempt to teach him to sing.

Photo by Wendy McDougall

Photo by Wendy McDougall

Of course, I’m being facetious. Again. The singing is a symbol – of a life lived fully and passionately; of an eternal ‘yes’ saying; of a type of healing. I think.

I also think the fundamental dramatic quality is multiplicity; multiplicity of voices onstage, and multiplicity of responses offstage. No play speaks to everyone. This one didn’t speak to me. I didn’t understand the challenges faced by the main characters. And so the evening seemed too long. But clearly it spoke to a large number of the audience.  There were plenty of laughs, and that pin drop silence that suggests intense fascination and total immersion.

The play is often considered Tom Murphy’s masterpiece and John O’Hare’s production is top class. The cast (Patrick Dickson, Kim Lewis and Maeliosa Stafford) give extraordinary performances.

So what do I make of a night like this? Do I wallow in the sense of alienation it creates for me personally? Do I recall other productions when it seemed I was the only sympathetic ear?

What I can do is make a recommendation: this is quality, thought provoking theatre. Go see it for yourself.

After all, if the play said anything to me, it was as a paean to the virtue of listening. Our Dynamatologist realizes he is out of his depth, but he listens anyway. And the results are beautiful.

Veronica Kaye

The Gigli Concert by Tom Murphy

at Eternity Playhouse til 4 May


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