By Holli Harms
We will all experience love, loss, grief. We cannot escape it. It’s part of the human condition. How we process or don’t process it is up to the individual. When words are your life, your work, it is only natural for the task of writing to be your way through it.
Incantata is a poem that the Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon wrote for artist and love Mary Farl Powers upon her death. “Incantata” means enchanted, spellbound, bewitched, beguiled,” and those words express the play, Incantata, presented by Irish Repertory Theatre to a capital T.
The play is not based on the poem but is the poem and so how do you create poetry on stage? Like this is how.
This is not just a celebration of love but also a remembrance of times together, the good and the bad. It is dangerous and revealing, and it has anger. Powers died of breast cancer. Muldoon’s grief that powered him to write this audacious poem is also his anger and neither director Sam Yates nor actor Stanley Townsend shies away from that anger so that the “remember when’s” are not quiet remembrances, they are weapons slung at the room, poured down like hard pellets of rain, they are storm waves crashing onto the lip of the stage.
All this passion is intensified by Paul Keogan’s lighting design which is alive, it moves and cascades, and shines a light as if made by a celestial being. Intensified by Jack Phelan‘s video design and Sinéad Diskin’s sound design.
The production is set in an art studio with paints and paper and potatoes. The potatoes take on their own poetry as an act of art and a display of grief. This set designed by Rosanna Vize is a painted canvas, that can contain the huge emotions and also allow a place to break free.
Incantata is a spontaneous combustion of words, and emotions, and art, carefully crafted by director Sam Yates. It takes a monster of determination to get to the truth.
Townsend is riveting as the poet who lost love. He is a sorcerer annihilating the stage with his large impulsive self. He is an artist painting the stage with bold strokes of blood, sweat, and tears. There is a freedom here to be ugly, to be truthful, to be honest, and to explore the telling of this story of love and loss.
It is sublime.
There is a video camera on stage that is more than the sum of its parts, it is Townsend’s silent partner in his telling. He works with the items on the “art studio” stage where everything is used, nothing wasted. And there are surprises in the same spaces where humor and sorrow live.
This is theatricality when it is smart. This is a deconstruction of words and reconstruction of life. This is an ingenious production.
Irish Repertory Theatre is proud to present the US premiere of Incantata, on the Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage.
Incantata Written by Paul Muldoon, Directed by Sam Yates
With: Stanley Townsend
Incantata premiered to wide acclaim at the 2018 Galway International Arts Festival and was most recently staged at Dublin’s famed Gate Theatre. This production is in memory of Mary Farl Powers.
Production: set & costume design by Rosanna Vize, compositions by Teho Teardo, lighting design by Paul Keogan, video design by Jack Phelan and sound design by Sinéad Diskin. Casting is by Maureen Hughes & Sarah Jones.
TICKETS Get HERE
Regular Seating: Starts at $70 Rear Seating: $50
Irish Rep Members get early access to all shows plus 20% off ticket prices. Complimentary tickets are available to Irish Rep members beginning at the Partner level. Learn about membership here.
SCHEDULE: February 18 – March 15, 2020
Tuesday: 7pm, Wednesday: 3pm & 8pm, Thursday: 7pm, Friday: 8pm, Saturday: 3pm & 8pm
SPECIAL EVENTS: Opening Night: Sunday, February 23 at 7pm
Patron Nights*: Wednesday, March 4 at 8pm, Tuesday, March 10 at 7pm
*Patron Night receptions are open to Irish Rep members starting at the Associate level. Learn more about membership.
Run Time: 60 minutes, no intermission