Show about death, beauty and what lies underneath coming to festival

Pat Kinevane plays an unloved, scarred corpse from beyond the grave in the Fishamble's production, Underneath.
Patrick Redmond

Pat Kinevane plays an unloved, scarred corpse from beyond the grave in the Fishamble's production, Underneath.

Irish actor and writer Pat Kinevane will present a ghoulish tale about a disfigured corpse from within the grave and beyond in his solo show, Underneath, at the upcoming Taranaki Arts Festival.

The production, created by the Olivier Award-winning team of Kinevane and Fishamble: The New Play Company, tells the story of an unnamed and unloved woman who was scarred by lightning at young age and lived a life of social exile.

Loaded with psychological insight, empathy, darkly comic wit and an exploration of the social norms surrounding beauty, the entertainer has toured the show internationally since its debut about three years ago.

Tara Shaskey catches up with the actor, perhaps better known for his roles in movies King Arthur and Ella Enchanted, before he brings the engaging theatre piece to New Zealand for the first time.

Tell us how you became involved with theatre and bit about your past works?
I have had an interest in theatre ever since I was a kid. My teenage hobby was just that and taking part in local school plays and concerts of every type. It was always a joy for me. I began acting professionally 28 years ago when I turned 22. I have performed in all of Ireland's major theatres and have been very fortunate to have worked this long as an actor and writer.

What inspired the writing of Underneath?
I was waiting for years to write about our modern ideas and obsessions with beauty. I find that epidemic, fascinating and vulgar all at once.

Who is the disfigured woman in the tomb, from where in your mind was she conceived?
The woman is a woman who is not named. She came to me during the writing very clearly and through my pity for her and my curiosity for her plight. I also was drawn to her personality in all of its beauty and flaws.

How much work goes into the lighting and the show's other production elements in order to create that otherworldliness on set?
With the help of a very skilled team of designers and technicians we are lucky enough to be able to manifest the dark and light of this chamber, this vault of the dead and the afterlife. 

What do you hope the audience's takeaway will be?
Whatever pops into their specific heads. But mostly, I always hope they will feel that life is a huge gift and to live it fully with gratitude.

Is Underneath a follow-up to your previous shows, Forgotten and Silent?
Yes, it is part of an almost accidental trilogy and sits at the end like a newborn still.

Why have you chosen to incorporate humour in a story about the pain of marginalisation?
Because as we say in Ireland, if we don't laugh, we don't cry. We have to laugh at our pain in order to suffer it.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I like to relax and listen to music - all types. Right now, Jennifer Hudson and Justin Timberlake are my treats.

Where does your mind go while you're on stage?
Into a mad place of duty and freedom.

What can the audience expect when they come to see Underneath at the upcoming Taranaki Arts Festival?
An adventure with a character like no other.

* Underneath will be staged at the Crystal Palace on Thursday, August 31 and Friday, September 1.

 - Stuff

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