Welcome to Ireland – Meltdown of an Irish Tour Guide – Project Arts Centre – Review
by Fran Winston
Project Arts Centre Cube, 39 Essex Street, Dublin 2.
7:45pm nightly with 2:45pm Matinée on Sat 25th. Tickets: €16/18. Age suitability 16+
Jack is a tour guide who spends his days selling the ‘ceol agus craic’ to the abundance of tourists that frequent Irish shores. By night he lives in a damp and not fit-for-purpose room in a house with a revolving door of Air BnB guests.
As the rent rapidly rises and his housing situation becomes more untenable, he sells Brand Ireland even more forcefully to make ends meet. But with the pandemic looming and lingering health issues, it is only a matter of time before his life implodes.
Written and performed by Jack Walsh, this one-man show has humour and pathos as it takes the audience on a journey through the realities of the forgotten people of Ireland. The older single person who is seen as more of a hindrance to society than a help.
Jack struggles to afford even the most basic of human needs – a roof over his head – all the while lining the pockets of others who have benefited from him for 12 years while allowing the damp to increase and his living environment to deteriorate.
The staging is simple, using packing boxes along with an armchair to represent Jack’s flat, which works perfectly for the setting.
Walsh is likeable and a great storyteller. It takes him a few minutes to find his stride but once he does he runs with it. However, there are a few songs peppered throughout and they aren’t as strong as they could be and distract from the story,
He takes on the persona of numerous characters he meets in his work with aplomb and while many may seem like stereotypes the reality is that every Irish person has, unfortunately, met these people.
Obviously, the run of this production was planned long before the government debate on the eviction ban but the timing seems impeccable for a show like this. The simplicity highlights the reality facing so many right now.
Surprisingly thought-provoking this will make you laugh but will also leave you with lingering questions about the state of our housing system,
Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review
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