-What we love about being here – the scenery, the history, the people, the hiking, the markets, the food, the opera…
-What? The opera?
-Yes, and the theatre. And very good cinema too.
-Wait – seriously? I thought you were there to get back to nature?
-Well, er, yes, but…
-West Cork is also a Mecca for artists of all kinds – musicians, actors, painters, poets, photographers – and part of being here is taking advantage of cultural events. As one local told me last year, “if it’s culture you’re after, we have buckets of it.”
-Oh, OK…tell us all about it, then.
The weekend started with a trip to Cork to stay overnight with my cousin and to go to the Metropolitan Opera Live Broadcast of Rigoletto. This was a stylish production with the action moved to 1960’s Las Vegas and the singers modelling themselves on Rat Pack characters. The Duke of Mantua made a wonderful fist of Old Blue Eyes, and Marilyn Munro made an appearance as Ceprano’s wife. The singing was glorious, with the German soprano Diana Damrau as a transcendent Gilda and Željko Lučić suitably tortured and barrel-voiced as Rigoletto.
The following day we visited a friend in his beautiful and very modern house in Kinsale, ate a huge Sunday lunch and then got into The Music, with Alastair on the fiddle and Robert on his melodeon.
The Cinemax in Bantry has all the latest releases and comfortable seating. They run an Arthouse Tuesday and this week we saw ‘About Elly’ by the Iranian Director, Asghar Farhadi. I had seen his movie ‘A Separation’ and was struck then, as I was now, by how much these films challenge our stereotypes of Iran. This one featured an ensemble cast of outstanding actors as young professionals from Tehran. The plot revolves around the disappearance of one of the group during an outing to the Caspian Sea, and the disintegration of cohesion as white lies and deceptions are compounded and revealed. The exploration of the dynamics of man-woman relationships was particularly riveting in what is apparently a time of transition between traditional and modern notions of gender roles.
On Friday night we attended the Schull Drama Group’s production of The God of Carnage, a play by French actor and playwright, Yazmina Reza. This is the same company of players that was responsible for the broad comedy and slapstick of the traditional pantomime we had seen in January and this comedy/drama was a testament to the depth of their talent. Two couples, Veronique and Michel and Annette and Alain, meet to discuss a contretemps between their sons. Their plan to do this in a civilized manner, over coffee and clafoutis, quickly descends into chaos, as accusation and counter-accusation reveal the fault lines of each marriage and the assumptions and veneers of middle-class privilege.
Finally, Saturday saw us in the company of two new friends, Amanda and Peter Clarke on a Rock Art Day of tramping through the countryside. Peter and Amanda are the talented couple behind two websites: Sheep’s Head Routes and Sheep’s Head Places, both invaluable resources for exploring this part of West Cork. Amanda is also a keen photographer with a wonderful eye. You can read her description of our day, and view more of her beautiful photography at her Blipfoto site.