Dublin Fringe Festival: The Birthday Man

Dublin Fringe Festival 2013: The Birthday Man- The Gonzo Theatre Company

Dublin Fringe Festival 2013: The Birthday Man- The Gonzo Theatre Company

In this preachy, elliptical comic drama that spans the life of our centenarian protagonist, ability spurns ambition as Gonzo Theatre juggle too many balls and they all come crashing down.  From Oisín's (McGuinness) birth during the Lockout to his death during the recession, the action jumps back and forth through time. His parents struggle to keep him alive whilst starving on strike, his granddaughter wishes him dead whilst caring for him and his son’s girlfriend reveals she has been 'pollinated' at the height of the troubles.
There are disturbing confrontations with terrorists,  run-ins with the police mirrored a century apart and the whole thing culminates in a forced sense of history repeating itself when a dole scam is tagged on at the end, with little pay out.  These subplots are not developed enough to hold our interest and the pointed historical parallels are delivered with the fervor of an agitated twitter feed, with little new or interesting to say. 
There is a tradition in Irish theatre to let broad caricature reign at the expense of character, as the quickest way to guarantee a warm reception from an audience. Rex Ryan does that to make the most lasting impression here. Kieran Roche and Ruairi Harding strike a subtler note. But in simplifying our complicated history with a liberal bias he couldn’t be bothered to veil, Doherty has missed out on a chance to explore the state of the nation through our inherited subservience.

  Star rating: ★

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Dublin Fringe Festival: The Birthday Man by The Gonzo Theatre Company

5 -14 September, 2013

Produced by The Gonzo Theatre Company
In Smock Alley Theatre Black Box

Written and directed by Philip Doherty
Cast: Rex Ryan, Cara Christie, Aislinn O'Byrne, Ruairi Heading, Kieran Roache, Eva Jane Gaffney, Killian McGuinness