My Left Nut – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review by Paddy McGovern
Dates Sep 12 @ 13:00/ Sep 13 @ 13:00 / Sep14 @ 20:00 / Sep15 @ 20:00 / Sep 17 @ 13:00 / Sep 20 @ 18:00 / Sep 23 @18:00
Tickets €13 – Duration 60 mins
Photo: Cait Fahey
A young man afflicted by fear of serious illness while struggling to come to terms with the untimely death of his father may not seem the stuff of laughs and comedy. It says a lot for the talent and performing skills of Michael Patrick that the one-hour show flies past and is, if anything, uplifting. Co-written with Oisín Kearney who also directs, the play is pitched somewhere between stand-up comedy and straight theatre. It takes us through the performer’s experience of a condition called hydrocele testis, which, though harmless in itself, causes a testicle to inflate as it fills with fluid. Inevitably, the swelling leads the boy, Michael, to worry that it is testicular cancer, an anxiety that he shoulders for a long time before confiding in his mother.
Comedy is generated by his fear that the condition may have been caused by a “sinful act” frequently indulged by adolescent boys and by the belief among his mates that he is generously endowed as they glimpse the ever increasing bulge in his pants. His mate Tommy confesses that his mates will be relieved to hear the real cause of his bulging shorts, as they always felt they could never measure up, literally. The joshing and capers of the friends throughout offsets the seriousness of the topic. Hormonally charged lads, bragging about conquests they never made and experiences chalked up, can generate laughter even as it exposes their vulnerability and self-doubt. It is a device with a long history in Irish theatre, stretching back to Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come and works well here too. However, the party sequence at the end unbalances the piece, even as it gives full rein to the actor’s great versatility in character creation not to mention his athletic dancing.
The loss of Michael’s father when he was just eight and his search for information about his illness and death are just as important in the show as the inflated testicle. It is in some of these scenes, written and delivered with sensitivity and tact, where the actor’s strengths are most evident. We are left with a sense that the show is hewn out of real life, is rooted in truth and integrity, the comedy injected to lighten the dark.
The show continues as part of Fishamble’s Show in a Bag as part of Dublin Fringe Festival until September 23rd.