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.. ........... .....Work created by Kelly Colleen McMahon  

October 26, 2006

Crime and Punishment at the Town Hall Theatre

by Charlie McBride

Ninth Wave Theatre are in the Town Hall Studio this week with their staging of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. The production runs until Saturday November 4.

This fresh adaptation of the classic novel strips the Russian master's story to its most compelling essence: the experience of a man who tries to do something monumental. In his cramped room, set against the halogen-lit grey rooftops of an equally cramped city, Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov learns of the far-reaching consequences of his actions - both good and evil.

Through his flawed yet quintessentially human main character, Dostoyevsky examines the psychology of crime and truths about guilt and redemption. This 19th-Century story holds even more relevance today in a world where murder is a daily occurrence and we find ourselves asking not "Whodunnit?" but "Why?"

Ninth Wave burst on Galway's theatre scene in January of this year with their stunning production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus in St. Nicholas Collegiate Church. The company went on to sell-out performances and plaudits from Project 06 adjudicators for their innovative Hamlet & Ophelia, set in the surprisingly theatrical Vic Nightclub.

For their third production, Ninth Wave bring their focus on exploiting unconventional performance spaces to the challenging familiarity of the Studio Theatre with a promise to present the venue in a new and exciting light.

Director and Ninth Wave founder, Kelly Colleen McMahon, has already proved herself to be an intelligent and inventive theatrical talent. One of the most impressive aspects of her two productions so far is the high production values they've displayed as McMahon eschews the usual tendency of tyro, and under-resourced directors to do plays that can be staged with minimal sets and costumes.

"I got around the lack of resources problem by using the spaces where the play is staged - like St. Nicholas's or The Vic - which themselves create an instant set," she explains, "I don't like to be restricted by anything, and I'm certainly not going to let absence of money restrict me. If you do that then you'll only end up doing small plays, but if you show you have the ability to do something bigger [without money] people will have the confidence to allow you to do so [through funding and other opportunities]."

She outlines her approach to Dostoyevsky's celebrated novel. "I've been a fan of the novel since I first read it when I was 14 or 15. When I was thinking of doing a play for the studio, I thought of it because the claustrophobia of the novel seemed to suit that space very well. There are a lot of subplots in the novel so we've pared it back to the story of Raskolnikov, his crime, and his punishing himself. I only bring up those people that are directly impacted upon by Raskolnikov's deeds. I've taken a 700 page book and turned it into an [hour and fifteen minute] stage piece."

McMahon again employs the talents of local actor Patrick Curley who takes on the challenging role of Raskolnikov while at the same time creating his surreal world. Curley, who featured prominently in both Amadeus and Hamlet & Ophelia, was also seen recently by Galway audiences in Blue Raincoat Theatre's Hollow in the Sand.

Patrick Curley gives his view of the production; "One of the things I like about working with Kelly is that she thinks big. When I read the novel, the character of Raskolnikov was absolutely compelling to me because he was emotionally complex and Kelly doesn't shy away from exploring that so I knew I'd love to do it from the get-go. We want to tell the story in a way that's visually interesting. What works in the book doesn't necessarily work onstage. A lot of the most interesting literary passages aren't really theatrical. So the challenge is to make it something that is dramatic and interesting to watch while still being faithful to the novel."

It is a challenge to which Ninth Wave will surely prove equal. Crime and Punishment runs this week and next (excluding Sunday and Monday) and commences nightly at 8.30pm. For tickets contact 091 569777.