Archive for July, 2009
Now that Riverdance is coming to a close, after 15 years as a raving success, we need another kitch Irish musical to uplift our times and kickstart an economic recovery. So, as an attempt, I give you “Hurling; The musical”, set to pipes, harps and the beat of a merry Irish heart.
When the curtains raise, it starts on a misty morning, in the time of Romantic Ireland – chieftains and warrior poets abound. Our hero, Setanta, is in an epic athletic struggle. It’s him against 5 other players, each armed with sticks. A ball is thrown around, and the movement of play is in the style of a interpretive dance half way between West Side Story dance-fighting and the well-oiled movements of a samurai. Gradually it becomes clear to the audience that the aim isn’t just to hit each other with the sticks (though that’s encouraged) but to get the ball past them. The programme will probably have some patronising comparisons to Ice Hockey in it anyway.
Insert a song about how wonderful it is to be young and carefree. Blow by blow, Setanta takes two players out with a skillful hit of the ball, skips around the other three, and pucks the ball along a guide-wire above the audience – where it explodes in a mini dazzle of green and sulfur.
Cut to Setanta’s uncle, Conor, leader of the brave and valiant red knights. He and the red knights are having a piss-up at Culain’s. This calls for nothing less than an over-the-top homo-erotic “Oh how great are we, we bunch of fighting men” number, immediately followed by a drinking song. Disgusted with their own drunkenness, Conor decides to call upon this nephew Setanta – the goody two-shoes with an ancient pioneer pin, to set an example. We might have an awful joke about using the “serf message service” to tell him, but only on the Broadway run.
So back to Setanta – singing a traveling song – as he skips along, on his way to his uncle. Oh how great it is to be young on carefree. But suddenly the mood changes, when he arrives to the castle, his idiot drunk of an uncle has forgotten to ask Culain to keep the hound in. And this is no ordinary hound .. this is a hound that’s represented by 3 expert dancers, chinese dragon style. More fight dancing, some explosive and aggressive tapping of feet, and then a face off. Cornered, battle-scarred and weary, our hero takes his hurl and pucks a ball straight into the hounds mouth. The hound died with a huge groan. The music reaches an epic climax, the pipes roar.
The Red Knights come out, now sobered up, Culain falls to his knees on the sight of his dead hound. There might be space for a “Man’s best friend” lament. Culain explains to Setanta that he now has a debt of honour, and that he should guard the castle in the hounds place. Setanta, young and carefree, doesn’t show much interest at first. Then, from behind the guards, emerges Caoimhe – gorgeous locks of long curly red hair and a shapely fit body that says “I dance a musical 10 times a week”. Spotlight on Setanta, who then sings a moving love-at-first-sight, oh how great it is to be young and carefree, ballad. Never mind honour – there’s a woman to be impressed – Setanta signs up, and we end act 1 with some displays and dancing as Setanta – now Cú Chullain – basically acts as a bouncer. “sorry, you can’t come in dressed like that – no tunic”.
It’s modern Ireland, to provide context the background might feature some unfinished building sites and an eight lane motorway that has a 60km speed limit, it’s up to the set dresser. To the same music as the opening of act 1, we come across our hero playing a game of hurling. Again, it’s one against 5. But now, the player is not setanta, but a modern Camógaí player – Caoimhe. This time she takes out three players, and gives the other two the run around, and of course sings a song about how great it is to be young and carefree. She seems even better than Setanta was, mostly it’s a wire-acrobatics kit that’s letting her jump higher.
Watching from the sidelines is Setanta, now the local hurling captain, and he’s enthralled. Once Caoimhe is done trashing the 5 players, he pleads with her – would she like to go out? He asks her to come see him play in the local final on Sunday. She looks torn, and spotlit – she sings to us about how she’d love to say yes, but just can’t. She let’s him down, and says she’s sorry, she can’t make it. Setanta feels the gentle hand of a put down, and walks off in a bit of a mood, he sings a song about this happening every week, but that he’ll persevere.
Caoimhe, now joined by her Camógaí team mates sings another song about how much she really likes Setanta, but hates the fact that they can’t play together – on the same team. It’s a song that is simultaneously full of sexual innuendo – all about playing together breathlessly – and yet speaks to the importance of being on the same team and that raising a family is the implicit reason for any healthy Irish relationship. She wants to get it on, but would also like to give birth to an entire team of patriotic hurlers.
So Caoimhe reveals her secret – big surprise, she’s been disguising herself as a guy – and playing midfield on the senior mens team, alongside Setanta, for months. It’s a musical, it’s ok for it to make no sense that he never recognised her in all of that time. She laments with her Camógaí team-mates about how unfair it all is, but gets some girl-power reinforcement and validation from the chorus. Sings about how crazy it is that Ireland is so modern in so many ways, but that the spectre of sexism is still there on the field of hurling.
And then, to our climactic scene – the Sunday game. It’s a tight one, it’s the last 5 minutes and it’s an even score. Insert tension here. Setanta and Caoimhe both miss a few chances. But at the last minute, after some epic dance-fighting, Setanta passes the ball to Caoimhe, who scores the winning point. Setanta and Caoimhe embrace in what he thinks is a brotherly hug of fellowship.
But of course, Caoimhe removes her helmet and reveals the curly red locks. The secret is out. At first, Setanta is shocked (think “you finally made a monkey out of me”) but quickly gets over it – oh how great it is to be young and carefree. End with a number that ramps up both the sexual innuendo and happy thoughts of Catholic family.
Liberally sprinkle in some jokes about teams going on strike, questions about players getting paid, some post-modern recession references and a dancing at the Crossroads jig in the middle, and I think there’s winning formula potential.
Posted on July 14, 2009, under general.
In a very short period of time, the president is going to sign into law Ireland’s new blasphemy legislation – making offending the superstitious worthy of a fine. Forget all of the offence this itself is causing, we should see it as an opportunity. So, I’d like to announce a new religion; the Methodist Medicine Religion (MMR, for short).
Broadly speaking, we fully agree with the methods of modern evidence-based medicine – but for pragmatic reasons – completely disagree with the supposed mechanisms of efficacy. Biochemical explanations are in fact a sleight of hand maintained by God, to test our faith in the truth; energy fields and planetary motions.
Despite the plain evidence, and the obviously benign intentions of God, that MMR is effective and safe, there is a disturbing trend of naysayers who cast doubt upon our religion. This dubious form of speech is manifestly a danger that deserves to be regulated. Such doubts cause real disease, sterility and death, but naturally our objection is merely on the grounds that it offends us, a more serious problem. Who’s with me?