Men At Play – The Complex -Review
From Nov. 5th – 10th 2018
The play starts when a man in high heels, makeup and a flamboyant black wig arrives on stage. He is a drag queen called Foxy and is much larger than life! Foxy is the alter ego of Fergus (Kieran McBride), who is a quieter, more reserved individual. Fergus starts to tell us about his youth, the first time he wore makeup and even tried on his mother’s wedding dress! Shortly after he is joined on stage by another man who is entirely different. He is a tall, muscular man by the name of Fionn (Ruairí Lenaghan), and he is having none of this camp nonsense! It emerges that the two are brothers. They grew up together in Donegal on a farm with a difficult father who didn’t show his kids any love or affection. Their mother was quite different, however, and made sure the kids had a good childhood, with as much fun as possible. This is the tale of two brothers, who went in very different directions.
This play was previously produced as part of the Galway Fringe Festival this year, where it won the Best Theatre production award. It is a new play by writer/ director Brian Burns. The story is told through a series of anecdotes about the lives of the two brothers at various stages. We hear of their games in early childhood and their difficult teenage years. There is an emphasis on Fergus coming to terms with his sexuality and how homosexuality was treated in Ireland in the 80s. While we do hear the story from the perspective of both brothers and even their mother, we never hear from the father. He remains a mute and distant figure throughout!
There is little on stage other than some chairs and a small dressing table, at which Fergus applies his makeup. It is a stripped down production that is based around the skills of the two main actors. While the two brothers are very different there is much love and respect between them. The play lasts less than an hour, so it gives us a brief insight into their lives. This is the first play by writer Brian Burns and while there is nothing particularly original in a story about a young gay man in rural Ireland, it does develop some interesting characters and has more than a few humorous moments.