Your Own Man/ Mad Notions – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review by Frank L.
Choreographed and performed by Luke Murphy
The Bewleys Café Theatre @ powerscourt is switched back to front so the usual raised stage forms part of a café. The performance area is therefore what is usually the back of the space which is centred by two long sash windows. On the wall in between is a large screen. Luke Murphy is hard to discern as the performer as the audience settle into their seats. His body blends into the background; to that extent he is like a chameleon. But you realise who he is when he carries a microphone and quietly tells you in what direction to run if there is a fire and to turn off your mobile phone. The performance has begun.
He uses his calm voice to tell stories about his time in the United States… just snippets but building them into moments of significance as in the parting phrase “have a nice day” and its variants. These American experiences are interlaced with stories from his childhood in Cork. Images of him from infant to adolescent appear on the screen. There is a dislocation between his Irish cultural roots and his acquired new skills in the United States. He creates a satisfying imbalance as he tracks the dissonances of an emigrant and moves around the café table in an intimate and chatty manner.
He also conducts an interplay between himself and a sound system. He moves and speaks effortlessly in tandem with it. But it is his ability to move his body and his limbs which captivates. Even in an every day shirt and corduroy jeans with the waistband of his black Calvin Klein jeans showing (in a movie it would be product placement), he effortlessly twists, turns and rotates his body while moving his legs into various athletic leaps but then reduces those self-same limbs into some rubbery substance which are without bones.
His ability to be a quiet spoken story teller coupled with his extraordinary skills of movement make for an engrossing hour of unusual but highly rewarding theatre.