East Belfast Boy & Every Day I Wake Up Hopeful – Project Arts Centre – Review
Prime Cut Productions – East Belfast Boy & Every Day I Wake Up Hopeful (Double Bill)
Every Day I Wake Up Hopeful tells the story of Malachy. He is a man dealing with some difficult news. He has recently been diagnosed with cancer and there is very little hope for his future. Malachy is a man consumed by regrets about how he lived his life. He seems to have followed the course of least resistance, going from school to college and then work simply because it was the easiest thing to do. His relationships followed in a similar fashion, other than for his time with one woman, a free-spirited Australian by the name of Skye.
This is a monologue with Simon O’Gorman playing the part of our protagonist; Malachy. He is wearing a dressing gown and is quite dishevelled in appearance, with an unkempt beard and stained clothes. He is asleep on the sofa when the audience take their seats before he wakes and tells us his tale.
East Belfast Boy is far less structured than its companion piece. It tells the story of a young man who loves dance music. From the opening moments of the play the soundtrack of techno music comes thumping out of the speakers and Ryan McParland appears, moving in time with the high tempo beat.
Our protagonist is Davy, and he tells us about his life and loves. At the start of the production, he has to shout over the music. He tells us about the club scene and the places to find out about new music. Later he talks about his family and friends. One of the more unusual aspects is that despite the wide-ranging subject matter, there is no mention of religion or of violence on the streets of Belfast. This may have been a conscious decision to move the conversation away from the troubles and focus on other aspects of life in Belfast.
There is no barrier between the performer and the audience and at one point he moves into the crowd to take a selfie with some of the audience members. There is a wildness to the performance and Davy has a manic look in his eye. You’re never quite sure where the monologue is going and at times it is quite difficult to follow, due to the soundtrack but also the stream of consciousness delivery.
The most unusual thing about this production is having two such diverse plays performed as companion pieces. While they both have a single male protagonist, there is very little else in common between the two works. They are both one hour long and have difficult subject matters so it might have been wise to package them separately and give them space to breathe.
Every Day I Wake Up Hopeful is a more traditional play, a piece of writing with a typical structure that flows despite its dark subject matter. You relate to Malachy who feels he has wasted much of his life and is filled with regrets, now that the end of his life is clearly in sight. Simon O’Gorman is very impressive in the part and he takes the audience on quite a macabre journey.
East Belfast Boy takes more risks in its style and delivery and is the more unorthodox of the two, but requires a lot more work to follow. Davy is an unusual character but you leave the theatre wondering how much you actually know about him. He is slightly lost in the noise and lights! The physical performance by Ryan McParland is one to marvel at and his movement along with the style of the piece try to capture the elusive club scene which is an unknown world to many theatre goers. Prime Cut Productions are an impressive company and continue to take risks with their work to create something original and innovative.
Every Day I Wake Up Hopeful by John Patrick Higgins
East Belfast Boy by Fintan Brady