BANG BANG – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review by Frank L.
December 04 – 23, 2017
Thomas Dudley was born in Dublin 1906. His parents died when he was young and he was brought up in an orphanage in Cabra. When he left the orphanage he became gradually a most unlikely part of the fabric of the city. He loved Western films, he saw many and they entered into his very existence. They were to him a reality. So much so that on trams, buses and other unlikely spots in the city he was likely to conduct a shoot-out using an oversized key as his gun. Very often other passengers returned fire. At the end of the battle he would ride off into the sunset on his imaginary horse. He added innocent joy to the life of the city.
This is a one man show where Pat McGrath plays Bang Bang, the name given to Dudley on the streets of Dublin. He is at the end of his days, almost blind, living in the Rosminian’s home for the blind. It is the run up to Christmas 1980. The stage is adorned by an institutional standard lamp, a utilitarian armchair (without arms) and a decorated Christmas tree. He recounts his life from the orphanage onwards where his fascination with Westerns is brought to life. It is a story of how one very tough life was transformed by fantasy into something tolerable. Bolger has created a loving portrait of this original man but does not shy away from the harsh realities of his confinement as an orphan in an institution or his incarceration as an almost blind man in another institution as his days draw to a close.
Pat McGrath completely transports himself into the make-believe world of Bang Bang. The excitement and dangers of the Wild West are however intermingled with his grim memories of the orphanage and his current fears and obsessions. Bolger and McGrath create, in just under an hour, an innocent, gentle world out of Bang Bang’s fantasy. It is a world where the imagination triumphs over the dullness of what was a socially deprived existence. To enter this world would be a joy at any time of the year but to do so in the run up to Christmas is a little bit of magic.
BANG BANG – Written by Dermot Bolger
Starring Pat McGrath
Directed by Mark O’Brien