The Lonely Luchador

Writer and Director: Conor Duffy

Presented by Head Above Water Theatre Company

 

The Lonely Luchador is Head Above Water’s contribution to this year’s Scene and Heard Festival at Smock Alley Theatre. Given the chance to present a work in progress, the stage floor is open for risks, novelty and new ways of storytelling.

 

El Hombre, the worlds greatest wrestler, is in Mexico to compete for the Mexican Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Title. In spandex and blue face mask he is ready to rumble. Or is he? Perhaps the time come to retire? To live a gentle life in the countryside with his beautiful wife Anna Lucia (Nathalie Clément). However, his manager Dexter (Tom Doonan) and Anna Lucia  have other plans and insist on him taking on this last fight. Sure, all he has to do is take on the monster among men that is Mister Muerto. His black mask and deadliest finishing move in Combat Sports are legendary. Young, powerful and deadly Mister Muerto is El Hombre’s greatest challenge. As the two titans of wrestling come face to face, the plot unwinds in a series of twists, turns, surprises and daring feats of physical comedy that make The Lonely Luchador a festival hit.

 

With The Lonely Luchador Head Above Water have succeeded in their aim of bringing original theatre and physical comedy to the Dublin stage. 30 minutes of riotous fun The Lonely Luchador features sharp and precise physical comedy at its finest. Compere and referee Joe Clinton, as Earl, kicks off the performance by inviting the audience to join in with boos and cheers; to involve themselves in the play like a real wrestling audience would. This was set upon with Friday night joy by the audience; who took little persuading to cheer on the good guy. As Conor Duffy’s El Hombre and Gavan O’Connor Duffy’s Mister Muerto face off tightly choreographed physical comedy is on full display. Body slams, kicks to the face, fighting off stage in the midst of the audience, this action – packed scene is excellently coordinated to draw as much entertainment as possible from the raucous fight scene. It will turn even the disinterested into a wrestling fan for the night.

 

Writer, director and El Hombre Conor Duffy shines throughout; imbuing his character with just enough emotion to make the audience root for him. Clément, armed only with her sharp tongue and hand fan, manages to utilise props and accents to great effect. Rounding off the group is Tom Doonan as El Hombre’s manager: a Texan with a cowboy hat and heeled boots, he is a chancer on the make. The accents are hammy and the action fast and physical. Every opportunity is mined for laughs in this ensemble piece.

 

Fun from beginning to end The Lonely Luchador was a very enjoyable part of this years Scene and Heard Festival. It will be very interesting to see what Head Above Water are planning to do with this in the future. Whatever they decide, it is bound to be cracking good fun.

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Anonymous

First Written for The Reviews Hub

Writer: Mark Richardson

Director: Nathalie Clement

‘I am homeless. I have no name’.

For homeless men living on the streets of Dublin it can seem as though they are stripped of their identity; histories, talents and even names. Mark Richardson’s Anonymous seeks to undo this.

Dolan is new to the streets and it shows. Despite having no shoes on he is still clean and somewhat green; willing to trust in others and have faith. He opens himself up and is vulnerable when talking about how he came to be on the streets. For Dolan his life may not be a long harsh process of homelessness but for older associate Sean, it is. Sean doesn’t have friends. He doesn’t have a name either. Or at least that is what he tells people. It soon becomes clear however that he is someone others turn to for advice and comfort. Slow to talk about himself he chooses to protect himself with the invisibility that comes with being looked over hundreds of times a day. He is the self – proclaimed oldest homeless man in Dublin and knows how to survive with little else except his notebooks.

The staging and costumes are relatively simple. Rubbish and fallen leaves are bundled up in a corner. The two main characters are armed with only their backpacks, some cardboard and the items on their bodies to protect them from the elements.

Over time we learn that Sean is a poet. Some of the play is delivered in verse, and poetry is integral to the nature of Anonymous. The language used is frequently lyrical and used to underscore humorous moments. It is important to note that this play is not gloomy or self-righteous but instead has many scenes which are funny and hopeful. Which also helps to show how the homeless are still people with minds who create and value art; for themselves and for others. Can art be a way out of poverty?

There are several points of heightened emotion in the play, including the ending that could do with a little sharpening to really touch the audience. Closing with multiple curtain calls after a surprising ending Anonymous is an important and valuable play that can both entertain and touch the heart of the audience. On the streets around The International Bar people are sleeping in shop doorways and begging for money to pay for a hostel bed. It is a sobering reminder that this play draws on what is for many a way of life.

Runs until 28 January 2017 | Image: Contributed