One Mad Camel: Burke & Hare

One Mad Camel: Burke & Hare

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Rosine Saad is One Mad Camel. Her series of reviews are honest, no-filter takes on what she sees.

I would have been extremely thrilled if I was in Sean’s shoes, walking out of The Junction yesterday, after the premiere of ‘Burke & Hare’. I couldn’t help cheering him out loudly and give him a congratulatory hug for a job well done.

‘Burke & Hare’ is the true story of 2 Irish immigrant, serial killers in Edinburgh in early 19th century. They killed to provide a renown surgeon, Dr. Robert Knox, fresh cadavers for his lectures.

Another successful 2016 production by Danú, that puts us in very close range with real stories of real events and characters.

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The story line, compact and not letting loose spots, missed one important indication: what really drove these 2 men to initiate the first kill. Yes, they were poor. Yes, they needed to meet ends. Yes, they understood the benefits that will come from this dark commerce. Yet, we don’t understand why they killed instead of being ‘resurrection men’ like the others. One dark evening, Hare tells Burke about how lucrative the business of a body snatcher can be, their neighbor is coughing, after a few lines exchanged, Burke goes to kill him, mind you, against his will and with all remorse. After that, the story makes sense, yet, that point of initiation was missing …

The entire setting of the play is a dark one, with low light, putting the audience in the mood of this ‘cadaverous’ tale, and making puns and dark humor stand out, marked with good-hearted laughter.

Danú rallied their finest Irish, Scottish & English troops for this first, lead by their (new) lead trio, Ciaran Mulhern (Hare), John Dillon (Burke) & Ronan Dennehy (Patterson), proudly twitching their mouth to give us the purest of their homeland accent, met by Campbell Tennis (Knox) who didn’t miss any Scottish ‘aye’ throughout the play.

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Yes, the acting was as expected from a Danú production; the right feelings at the right moment, except for Vourneen Mcelwain (Cait), the duo’s first female victim. She portrays this beautiful Irish young woman, full of kindness and compassion, carrying a hurtful past, meeting her brother for a better future. The audience falls in love with her, follows her ordeal, wants to shout out to protect her … We just didn’t know when to shout out! She failed to make us gasp out of fear when she knew she was about to die. She was too … loose in her feelings then, too politically correct, as if she was telling them: Oh, I know you are about to kill me, I am just too polite not to grant you this wish!

The scenes’ pacing was good, the play pace was not. The longest scene was 5, maybe 7 minutes, cut by a black out of 2 minutes to change the set: add a bench, take out a bench, put the cushions on the chairs, take out the cushions off the chairs, turn the widow panels Burke & Hare style or turn it Dr. Knox style … too many black-outs that, for me, killed the tension, and killed the overall pace.

A little adjustment in the theatricality and scenes transitions, a couple more lines in the duo’s opening scene, and this play would be a masterpiece!

Congratulations Danú Dubai for this first, it was an overall success, the script, the acting, the setting. Looking forward to your coming productions.

A shout out to Howzat, opening next weekend at The Junction, another Dubai based full length play script writing, this time about Dubai in 2016 … Break a leg guys! Can’t wait to see it.

Rosine Out!

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Rosine Saad

Chronically ill with an acute case of No-Filter-Disease. Getting through with her sarcasm and a dash of humor.

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