Late at the Gate with Emmett Kirwan – Gate Theatre – Review by Frank L.
Selected Dates from 23rd February to 24th March, 2018
The Gate Theatre commissioned Emmett Kirwan to provide his response to their production of John Osborne’s seminal play, from the mid nineteen fifties, “Look Back in Anger”. At 10.30pm in front of the deserted set of the play (a large double bed dominates) the twenty-first century vibrancy of Emmett Kirwan strode, with his easy-limbed confidence, onto the stage. He gave a brief introduction as to what he had written to his audience, an audience which was very different in appearance from that usually associated with the venue.
Kirwan then ambles to a small lectern and begins to read his three poems. His performance lasts about half an hour. He combines his talent as a gifted wordsmith with a comparable ability to read and give vibrancy to what he writes. The words are delivered at a terrific pace. He has a message from those who are near the bottom of the social pile. It is one of anger and frustration but leavened by the virtuosity of the language. Kirwan sucks you into the vortex of his words. He draws you to his side. Sit back and allow yourself to be sucked in.
Kirwan is something of a YouTube phenomenon with his Heartbreak video receiving a quarter of a million hits. He is also responsible for Dublin Oldschool, a two man play about drug abuse in the inner city which toured widely. He was a perfect choice to write this response as he has his finger on the pulse of modern Dublin.
The Gate Theatre is to be congratulated on this initiative as it seeks to nurture a more diverse audience. Emmettt Kirwan ticks many of the diversity boxes as he delighted his audience with his verbal and physical dexterity. Because the flow of his words is so rapid there is no time to ponder what he has just said as he hurtles ever onward. A second visit will be required to savour the performance. This initial iteration of “Late at the Gate” was a great way to end an evening. The unusual thing was the transformation in the audience from the earlier performance. It was a young, vibrant audience, something the Gate has been chasing for many years, which is a victory in itself!