The Lonely Luchador – Smock Alley Theatre – Review by Letizia Delmastro
Part of the Scene and Heard festival
The Lonely Luchador, presented as part of the Scene and Heard theatre festival in Smock Alley, truly brings a breath of fresh air from the usual sit-and-watch theatre that Irish audiences are so used to. In typical wrestling style, a presenter rallying up the crowd and asking for their participation in the show greets the audience: all are welcome to boo and cheer at their pleasure, and posters are handed around to wave during the match.
Feeding off the crowd’s energy the main character is presented, El Hombre (Conor Duffy) “the world’s greatest wrestler (without a sex tape)”, who now wants to give up his career and live a normal, quiet life with his wife.
From the very first moment Duffy’s over the top performance grabs the audience, pulling it deeper into the story of a man coerced by his wife and manager into a career he doesn’t want anymore; but far from falling into introspection, an action-packed twist livens the proceedings. From the depths of the audience emerges Mister Muerto (Gavan O’Connor Duffy), the only wrestler El Hombre hasn’t yet beaten, and so the true fun begins, with the dad-bodied El Hombre fighting a very athletic Mister Muerto in a true wrestling match.
With hits ranging from terrible paper cuts to kicks in the face being inflicted, the riveting match shows both Gavan O’Connor Duffy’s combat skills and Conor Duffy’s comedic skills and truly incorporates the audience through the use of the Main Space’s stairs surrounding the stage. The fight develops and, just as Mister Muerto has performed his finishing hit and the match seems to be over, another emotional revelation takes place: neither of the wrestlers actually want to be there. A touching moment follows, and then another fight that brings on the end with another, unexpected plot twist.
Packed with action, audience participation, comedy and well-balanced highs and lows, The Lonely Luchador is a lively, highly entertaining show that definitely hit the mark. Brought on stage by greatly skilled performers and engaging the audience in such a way that is rarely seen on Irish stages, it has the potential to develop into a right blockbuster. A true must see.
The Lonely Luchador by Head Above Water theatre Company
Written and directed by: Conor Duffy
Produced by: Nathalie Clement
Stage management by: Jeff Gibson
Lighting design by: Conor Burnell
Costume design by: Lydia Constance Dorman
Design by: Philip Cotter Art