Anita Byrne on The Only Jealousy of Emer

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The Only Jealousy of Emer at 14 Henrietta Street.

When I arrived at the location of the play, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I was on the earliest Georgian streets of Dublin, Henrietta street, where many of the houses had fallen into disrepair during the 19th and 20th centuries when they began their lives as tenement buildings. The houses have been the subject of restoration efforts in recent years and one of them were the location for this play, The Only Jealousy of Emer starring Yemi Adenuga, Deji Adenuga, Oluwayomi Ogunyemi, Esosa Ighodaro and Penelope Anyaji-Aniuzu. Who knew that such unassuming, barren houses could hold such an unforgettable event?
We were guided into the first room of the house where there were a few chairs lined out but no performers to be seen. The atmosphere was extremely sombre and slightly haunting, given the long history of the Georgian houses on Henrietta street, I am convinced they’re haunted. This haunting feeling was further reiterated as the play began with slow humming coming from down the hall which slowly approached closer and closer to the room in which we were sitting. I remember preparing myself for something jumping out at me, the anticipation was really starting to become too much and I began feeling very nervous. The beautiful singing voices of the performers soon quenched this nervous feeling as they walked in in a procession and presented themselves to the audience.
The play which went on for approximately 25 minutes, Cuchulainn has killed his son and in grief, attempts to fight the sea. Half drowned; he lies in a state between life and death with his wife and mistress watching over him. Strange events occur as Cuchulainn has in fact been replaced by a changeling and they try tirelessly to get him back. This play is highly interactive with the audience as you follow the performers from room to room for the duration of the play. In some instances they even stand among the crowd, giving the crowd a feeling of inclusion, the events of the play being something shared by both the performers and the audience.
This play is a production by the City Arts Office in association with Yemi and Deji Adenuga for Nigerian Carnival Ireland, the production is designed by Robert Ballagh, with costumes by Marie Tierney and choreography by Liz Roche. The play is already an stunning piece of theatre, but there is an amazing sense of multiculturalism at play with the contribution of Nigerian Carnival Ireland. It puts an interesting spin on the play as it is combining both Nigerian culture and Irish culture to create a unique masterpiece that I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in culture and theatre to go and see.

By Anita Byrne

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