The Diary of Maynard Perdu – Smock Alley – Review
3 – 8 Sept | 8pm | Main Space
Welcome to the colourful world of Maynard Perdu. He is an unusual and fanciful character who works as a Ring Master in the Spiegeltent alongside a variety of extraordinary individuals. They sail from port to port and arrive to add excitement and glamour to the lives of the local inhabitants. When they land in one particular location, some of the sights and sounds seem all too familiar to Maynard. It starts to trigger a memory of things in his distant past that he has long since left behind.
This is a new play written and directed by Billy Roche. Roche is a successful playwright, who is probably best known for his Wexford Trilogy, and the Poor Beast In The Rain (1989) in particular. This work was originally a novella which Roche converted for the stage. It is a one-man performance, with Peter McCamley playing the titular Maynard Perdu. The play was recently staged in Wexford and has arrived in Smock Alley for six dates.
The stage contains two platforms that McCamley bounds between. There are a variety of hidden compartments in the platform nearest the audience, and it can be transformed into a variety of different locations; such as ships, tables and even a jail cell at one point! It is an interesting device that adds to the spectacle. There are also a number of costume changes and a clever use of a mop!
Before the interval, the play seems quite far-fetched, as we get to see Maynard, a man obsessed with his own looks and intelligence. He talks of his various paramours and even describes the mysterious Isabella, who is the love of his life. The downside of this is that there is no real structure to this whimsy. The play could do with more of a plot to build these characters around. After the interval, the play takes a turn for the better, as we realise all is not as it seems in Maynard’s world. It also allows McCamley to show his range as an actor and he does well with it, changing between the effervescent Perdu and some more pensive characters.