Performances – 24–26 September – 13:00 – 21:35, various times
Venue – Club Chonradh na Gaeilge
This is a 25-minute autobiographical journey as Gaeilge about the life of a middle-aged gay Gaeilgeoir from Dublin and staged in the basement of Conradh na Gaeilge’s premises in Harcourt Street. Cleverly constructed as an ambulatory journey through a series of sets depicting different stages of the protagonist’s life, audience members listen to his pre-recorded story (downloaded in advance on Soundcloud) on headphones with directions on when to advance to the next location.
Only one audience member is allowed in a set at any one time, so it is a solo journey for each participant which enhances the intimacy of the experience. The journey begins in the living room of his childhood house in the late 70s/ early 80s where the audience member is invited to sit on an armchair and look at the ornaments and family photos. He describes his childhood and his self-realisation of both his queerness and the absolute need to hide the same from his parents and society at large. The audience member then passes into a hairdressing salon where the young man plies his trade. We see his first steps into a heavily closeted gay subculture in a nightclub setting where audience members are free to dance if they wish and follow as he moves to London to finally be free to explore his sexuality.
There is a recreation of his bedsit in London where he is finally free to find physical love with another man. There is an evocative dinner table set in the family home where he brings a boyfriend home to Dublin but finds only conditional acceptance from his parents. Then there is a later return to Dublin where he finds how welcoming Dublin has become for gay people, though it is tinged with bitterness that it was not so when he, as a young man, felt forced to leave his home country.
He invites us to reflect on the fact that in half an hour we have learnt more about his life story than his elderly mother chooses to know after an entire lifetime. Though not an unfamiliar tale to many older gay people in Ireland, it is a timely reminder that young people often emigrated in the past for reasons other than economic hardship, many never really wanting to go but being left with little choice. The Irish text is well delivered and understandable even to those with limited Irish and, for those that wanted it, a printed English translation was available to assist with understanding the storyline. Overall, a warm and personal theatrical experience with very impressive sets which immerse the listener inside the world.