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Centre of the Universe – Bewleys Cafe Theatre – Tiger Dublin Fringe Review

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The Centre of the Universe – Review by Emily Elphinstone

John Doran wants to be your Best Friend, whether you really like your best friend, or are secretly jealous of them. He wants to help find ‘the best you’, and he wants you to find your own cult: not in a ‘suicide pact’ way, more in a way that utilises a cult’s favourite ingredients of passion, dedication and focus. The Centre of the Universe is part motivational speech, and part deep look into the man himself: John is down and out, and is about to find a way to bring himself back up.

The Centre of the Universe focuses on one man with no job, few friends and a largely absent flatmate. At a particularly low ebb he finds a way to change his outlook, which brings forth a new way of life; and now he’d like to share this epiphany with others. It is a brilliant example of what the Show in a Bag strand of Tiger Dublin Fringe can offer; actor John Doran, who also wrote the script under the watchful gaze of Fishamble’s Gavin Kostick, creates a wonderfully economical show. With only a chair and a few well placed words relating to the essence of cults (written simply on pages of A4 paper), Doran builds the entire world of the play. He performs with a hugely impressive physicality, committing wholly to every neurotic moment and flicking back and forth between characters with brilliant clarity.

The beauty of the show is how incredibly relatable the character is. Many of us will recognise elements of John’s life and more than one audience member was heard after the show to say how they identified with a scene in a job interview, falling to pieces under self-imposed pressure and then wondering what on earth happened. The Centre of the Universe will appeal to anyone who has struggled to find their place in the world, and is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the Fringe so far.

The Centre of the Universe runs in Bewleys Cafe Theatre until September 20th Dublin Fringe.

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