Bleach – Outhouse – Review by P McGovern
British Exist Theatre at Outhouse Theatre
Dublin Gay Theatre Festival – May 1st to 14th
Dan Ireland-Reeves’s one-man show, Bleach, is an absorbing journey into the heart of darkness of Tyler Everett, a young (well, no longer that young) rent boy in London. The narrator has no illusions about the long-term effects of his trade. It “damages your morals a bit”, he tells us. And he doesn’t just tell us the bland, obvious fact; he illustrates with incidents that chart his descent from a fundamentally ordinary decent young guy into a moral and emotional wreck where he is uncertain of where he stands in relation to home, friends, clients or indeed, himself. His confusion about the blurred lines between reality and the mental distortion induced by hard drugs and the use of a shifting timeline sometimes leads to confusion on the part of the audience too. While some of the ambiguity is deliberate, reflecting the ravages of his adopted lifestyle, some of the writing could be reworked to greater, clearer effect.
It is a fine performance by the author himself in a demanding role, nuanced and empathic. We see the man beneath the title “sex worker”. We sense his repeated need for acceptance and approval as he proclaims that he “surely deserves some credit” for striking out independently from home, not dependent on his mother like many young people today. He clings to a sense of respectability, telling the old neighbours that he works in “the service industry”. However, within a few episodes we see him slide from pride in the pleasure – and pay – he derives from his work to horror at what he may have become. If his recollections of a particular night are accurate… Or if the camera doesn’t lie, but then again, sometimes the camera’s function is to do just that.
Vocal delivery is at times too strong for such a confined space and there is overuse of an emphatic gesture with the right hand. However, he holds the audience effortlessly for the full hour. It is an unflinching, honest piece of theatre, well worth catching at the Outhouse Theatre (Capel St) where it continues until May 6th.