The Irish deserve their reputation for being the greatest storytellers. And an actor who spits is usually very, very good.
From what could have been a simpering complaint tale about the growth of suicides in his hometown, Pearse Elliott has created a wonderfully layered picture of one man's life on the council estates of Belfast and the demons and angels that fill his imaginative head.
As played by the most amazing, Ciaran Nolan as Sean Doran, we are on a trip -- traveling through smelly bogs, to a day in the life of a roaring lion and his pride to a movie premiere with Brad Pitt -- all of this in only an hour and 15. This one man's show produced by the fantastic Brassneck Theatre Company and directed by Tony Devlin, swept them away in Edinburgh and will do the same for you if you can get over the thought that you might not understand the accent.
Mr. Nolan is such a gifted performer that even the colloquialism don't concern you because his energy and physicality conveys everything you need to know to understand this guy whose lost so many pals to suicide. His self-effacing portrayal of the loser of course belies the power of the true survivor -- the one who is left to tell the story. And boy is he funny. He has all the moves -- from a wee bit of a lost soul named Hatchet who survived the "troubles," to an itchy guy who dispatches bad tips on the horses, to a young gay kid from pampered Boulder. When he attends the wrong wake for a different Soupy Campbell than the one he thought had suicided and turns into Elvis, you think, "Shit, I hope he comes to my funeral."
This is Belfast. This is today -- with all the sense of loss that a perpetually poetic country can offer. There is something really noble about having terrible jobs; you build if not character, an absurdist view that this author has in pounds.
If I have one bone to pick, it's the tie in of all the suicides... I wanted to understand that they were economic based with a dash of war wounds. But when he throws in a Gazelle... a jogger from the upper classes who takes his fancy and who also perishes by her own hand, I am set adrift. Obviously, people don't off themselves just because of a laundry list and rich people are miserable as well as poor. But something about the landscape Mr. Elliot created in the top of the play felt right for keeping it in the realm of the caste system... in this case, council estates.
But that's a small criticism for an otherwise wonderful production. Mr. Elliot is a feminist whether he knows it or not and yet the story of the online monster who shows up at the Sean's door, is as awful as any man on the prowl but as played by multi-accented Mr. Nolan, much, much funnier.
All involved have wonderful credits. Go to the show, read the playbill. Or just take my word. This is a beautiful piece of art.