|*Thanks to Sherman for review tickets.|
Last night Warren and I were invited to see Dublin Carol at Sherman Theatre. Sherman is currently undergoing a revamp and from what I saw last night, we’re all in for a treat when it’s finished later this month. Dublin Carol made its debut at Sherman on 1st February and it is written by Conor McPherson and directed by Matthew Xia.
The story focuses on one main character, John (performed by Simon Wolfe) and includes two other characters, Mark (Julian Moore-Cook) and Mary (Siwan Morris). John is a heavy drinker with a haunting past and the play delves into his deepest darkest experiences, his unforgivable failings and his dependency on alcohol.
The studio at Sherman is like a chameleon of the theatre world, always surprising me with how it can change so dramatically from one performance to the next. Last night the stage was an old and worn office/kitchen, suitably adorned with tinsel and old Christmas decorations. The space was overbearing, almost reaching out into the audience, allowing us to be a part of John’s world. Every detail of the stage had been finely designed to give the impression of a tired and tatty work space; part of me feels this was possibly a visual representation of John’s life…
The writing was very reflective and sweary, lots of ‘f” and ‘c’ words banded about without fear, so be prepared if language makes you feel uncomfortable. Personally, I love it, it feels real and gritty and wholesome to hear someone express their emotions and thoughts with profanities!
John is a complex character, one I could relate to and dislike at different times during the performance. On reflection I wonder if this dislike stemmed from how alike I felt to him; his weakness and his anxiety, his bitter tones and his need to cover over the hurt and pain of childhood. I think Dublin Carol may have gotten under my skin at times, but this means facing up to a reality and accepting you’re not alone, a bitter pill to swallow.
Simon Wolf handled the character of John perfectly, I have no idea if he is Irish but his accent never faltered and his mannerisms linked perfectly to the dialogue throughout. I felt his passion and his venom, I saw his fragility and his anger, and at times all I saw was a lost soul.
Mark offers light relief in the form of youth; a young man who has it all paved out in front of him. The world is his oyster. He gives John time, time to talk and time to reflect, he offers the kindness of youth and I thought Julian Moore-Cook was fantastic.
Mary, John’s daughter, offered up a form of hope and moving forward within the play. Siwan Morris seemed to reach into my heart at times; her emotions were obvious and performance was sensitive and, at times, reminded me of myself and my own battle with my father and his smoking ‘habit’. At times her accent wavered, but her skillful acting drew me in regardless.
I thought the dialogue was well written, but there were times when the story didn’t go deep enough for me and I wanted more; more history, more interaction and more conversations between the three characters presented to us.
Despite this, the end of the play signalled hope and habit all at once. John returns to the booze yet he embraces the joy of life once more. For me, the returning of the Christmas decorations symbolises his change of outlook and possible change in life. I would have loved to have had a little more closure, such as John tipping away all the alcohol, but this would have probably served as a cliche and not had the impact the ending had.
The relationships in Dublin Carol are real. Some are messy and full of mistakes, some are sweet and full of joy, but all of them felt real and unedited. For me, Dublin Carol made me face my own past, present and future and this is not a comfortable place to be. However, I think it’s necessary for us all to reflect, to forgive and to move forward in this thing we call life.
You can catch Dublin Carol at Sherman until 17th February 2018 and tickets start from £8.