F.A.T. D.A.D. – The Complex – Review

Photo: Mark Stedman

F.A.T. D.A.D. – The Complex – Review by Cristina Florescu

Until Sunday the 25th Feb 2017

F.A.T. D.A.D.  is a play written by Anthony Gouling and directed by Vanessa Fielding. It focuses on Fiachra Martin, an Irish teacher played by David O’Meara and his students played by Damian Gildea, Darragh Byrne, David Fenelly, Donncha O’Dea, Killian Kirwan and Oisin Murphy. The play is set in North Dublin in the 1980s, a place that is falling apart under the burden of unemployment, The Troubles and a surge in drug use. Amongst all these unfortunate circumstances, Fiachra tries to teach values that go beyond the classroom.  F.A.T. D.A.D. stands for the initials of all the counties North of the border. Fiachra, a republican who goes on hunger strike in sympathy with Bobby Sands, teaches his students about a united society, where their generation can strive to overcome their differences and wear their Irish identity with pride.

The play confronts Ireland with its own image through the mirror of theatre. It does not gloss over any uncomfortable parts of Dublin’s history in the eighties and despite its patriotism, it acknowledges our short comings. For example, the teacher’s idealism is often shattered by his students, as they raise valid points about their backgrounds, financial struggles and living in a country that faces open conflict. His views are constantly challenged and the viewer experiences multiple sides of the story, acknowledging the flaws of both the teacher’s blind idealism, and the students’ inability to see their own potential.

Photo by Mark Stedman

Although the play drags a bit at certain points, the dynamic between the actors is excellent, particularly between David O’Meara and Damian Gildea as the inspirational teacher and the student with a great talent for words.  In fact, the whole setting is reminiscent of Dead Poets Society. It is a great exploration of the role of education in a troubled time and a troubled country, the importance of standing up for what you believe in, and the extent to which you can do so without becoming naive.  All in all, F.A.T  D.A.D. is a time-travelling experience through Ireland’s troubled past. It sheds a sincere light on social issues that still plague today’s society: drug addiction, class segregation, unemployment, but it does so with an Irish sentiment of overcoming any obstacles and looking upon one’s identity with pride.


Martin – David O’Meara

Kelly – Damian Gildea

Sean – Darragh Byrne

Buttoner, Big Man – Killian Kirwan

Moran, Charity Worker – David Fennelly

Donegal, Hibbert, Garda – Donncha O’Dea


Directed by Vanessa Fielding

Lighting and media – Conleth White

Visual projection – Mark O’Gorman

Costumes – Olga Criado Monleon

Production Manager – Stephen Bourke

Stage Manager – Alison McCarthy

Music Consultant – Shay Doyle

Sound – Vincent Doherty

Set Props – Justyna Nowicka, John Meany

Construction – Warren Kiernan, Brendan Moon

Scenic artist – Paul McGrane

Administration – Michelle Daly

PR and Marketing – DHR

Community engagement – Kellie Payne

Front of House – Bernadette Tormey


Photo : Mark Stedman

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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