Caomhán Keane, 18th September 2012
The farmer and the land have been vilified in Irish literature and in the Irish mind-set for long enough. WillFred Theatre try a more open minded tack with FARM, where docudrama meets art installation, with song, dance and livestock thrown in for delightful measure. The life expounded is less country ideal more gratifying slog which never turns its back on the reality of the situation. Business can be tough, the life can be lonely, the rot of globalisation and global warming laying waste to their best laid plans. But in this finely tuned production from director Sophie Motley, the darker moods are tempered with knowing, chin up humour. The passion of the producer-even on tiny allotments is infectious, informative and delivered with pleasing ease; the movement between segments perfectly placed so as to move us along but not leave the feeling behind; while the immense imagination of the whole affair captures the magic and miry relationship man has with nature.
A rousing dance that captures the satisfaction such hard work can reap is stunningly countered by a silent solo on solitary life; the life and times of a queen bee is lauded in an erotic, ukulele lead barbershop soon after we are treated to the horrors of bovine birth from a first time dam. While the cast meld human and animal elements into their performances and choreography so beautifully, the whole piece elicits a sense of childlike wonder from the viewer – something that is very hard to pull off without cheapening the sense of raw feeling that is essentially captured here.
FARM’s greatest achievement though is its ability to make your soul sing and yearn at the same time. It makes us pine for the simple pleasures, the reality that impedes them and the almost perfect theatrical experience that it embodies.