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The Man In Two Pieces – Theatre Upstairs – Review

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A Man in Two Pieces written by Gerard Adlum – Review by Frank L.

Theatre Upstairs – 07 April 2015 – 18 April 2015

Kerrigan (Stephen Brennan) is the actor and manager of Kerrigan’s Vaudeville Theatre which has been touring Ireland in 1921, for the previous thirty years. It continues to roll up in rural towns, putting up its big tent and treating the local community to the delights of live theatre and stunts performed by “a strong man” and the like. Kerrigan trades in illusions, the very stuff of theatre; things are however always a little bit different in reality. By the early nineteen twenties Vaudeville Theatre was well into its decline and Kerrigan is in harmony with its bathos. He still believes in the illusions which he pedals but it is becoming more and more difficult to keep the faith particularly if vaudeville was seen by some of the combatants in the civil war as part of the enemy.

The second part is that of Boy (Gerard Adlum) who has the challenging task of playing four different young male characters. Each in his way is a fall guy for Kerrigan who is the master of ceremonies. Throughout Stephen Brennan is in masterful form. He exudes Kerrigan’s confidence in the product he is seeking to pedal, to his various expositions on what drama on the live stage is, to a splendid dance routine all delivered with a confidence which is captivating. This is intensified by the intimacy of the Theatre Upstairs which makes every small gesture and movement so easy to observe. My favourite was a fleeting glance at a river over the wall of a bridge… as Kerrigan looked over the wall the water itself could be glimpsed. However Kerrigan is desperately keeping up appearances as his options diminish. Gerard Adlum as the ubiquitous Boy had in some ways a more difficult role, with four distinct characters and to do so in the shadow of Kerrigan. No easy task but he did it assuredly.

Adlum is to be congratulated on creating a text imagining the fate of a theatrical touring company during the civil war and the concomitant grim political “unrest” if that is not too weak a term. In addition he also wrote the two original songs which form part of the play and O’Casey-like they add greatly to the ambience. This well- crafted play illuminates a forgotten world of touring theatre companies and the challenges they faced in a changing social milieu intensified by war. It is timely and it is to be seen.

DATES / TIMES:

07 April 2015 – 18 April 2015

7.00PM / Tuesday – Saturday

1.00PM (matinee) / Wednesday + Saturday

Photos by Ste Murray

POST SHOW DISCUSSION with Stephen Brennan, Gerard Adlum and Sarah Finlay after matinee on Saturday, April 11th @ 1.00PM.

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