Writer: Gerard Adlum
Director: Sarah Finlay
Dublin’s Theatre Upstairs has been transformed to Ireland in 1921. Under cover of night Kerrigan’s Vaudeville troupe, which has taken up temporary residence in a country town, is joined by a nameless boy, who sees the dream of the place and thinks ‘this must be the place’. The boy runs away with this miscellaneous group headed by ring-leader and general impresario; Kerrigen.
The first sign that this play could be something special comes before the audience enter the theatre. The announcement on the programme that the character of Kerrigan, one of only two actors to grace the stage, is being played by Stephen Brennan bodes well. Brennan is a well established and accomplished actor who is perfectly cast as the spell binding Kerrigen.
The Theatre Upstairs is a cosy and intimate space, drawing the audience into the world created on stage. The stage is cluttered with strong man apparatus, the lights are often dimmed or reddish in hue as most of the play takes place at night, and gives the magic of the language and mystery chance to breathe. There is something inherently magical and intriguing about a travelling vaudeville troupe; a group of people who are not tied to place and social conventions in the way that the rest of society is. However Ireland is deeply troubled at this time and this eventually starts to permeate the troupe. As the group of misfits struggle to find their way in this changing landscape The Man in Two Pieces tries to get to the heart of not just what makes a man, but a consummate showman like Kerrigen.
The play has been well scripted by debut playwright Gerard Adlum, who has built up a solid background of acting work over the past few years and who showed great ability as an actor during this play. It is astonishing to think that this is Adlum’s debut as a playwright and Dublin audiences can only hope that it will be the start of a long successful career.
Photo courtesy of Theatre Upstairs. Runs until April 18th.