Narcissus – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Archway & tasteinyourmouth
The Boys School – Smock Alley
Written and performed by William Dunleavy
“I was friends with Mark and Matt. Or Matt and Mark. Whatever. They’re the same, really. Hot. Glamorous. Fun.”
This production gives us an insight into the lives of three glamorous young men. We meet our main protagonist and hear him discussing his two friends, Matt and Mark. The three friends were inseparable for a period, but their relationship is more complex than that. Matt and Mark are lovers, a power couple of sorts, but such definitions rarely matter as they slip between different men. The play talks about a typical wild night in their young lives as they look to meet Luke Evans, a Hollywood star that is in town for a play he is starring in. They roll from one party to the next, in search of their elusive leading man.
This production takes the form of a monologue, with writer and actor William Dunleavy on stage for the duration. There are moments where the text is pre-recorded and Dunleavy’s voice comes through the PA system, while he acts out moments from the script, downing a variety of drinks or taking pills. The night is filled with chemical abuse and the lure of sex. The three young men have power over the older men they meet, they know it and use it.
The staging is simple, with a raised platform almost like a catwalk, which the performer moves around and occasionally dangles off. The tiny space of the Boys’ school creates an intimate atmosphere, like a confessional as we hear all the gory details.
In some respects, there is nothing shockingly new about the work. The lives of young, attractive gay men have often been detailed on stage, but this work has much to recommend it. The writing is sharp and funny, reminiscent of Bret Easton Ellis’ early work. The delivery of the text is nonchalant and casual. Dunleavy is an impressive performer, he creates an intimacy with the audience, making eye contact with audience members so you feel part of his scene, regardless of how far removed you are in reality! The story is without a denouement which is the main flaw of the piece, but otherwise, it’s an impressive production that deserves to be seen by larger audiences than current restrictions permit.