Christopher Samuel Carroll in 'Diceman'. Photo: Colm McDermott

Christopher Samuel Carroll in 'Diceman'. Photo: Colm McDermott

Christopher Samuel Carroll in 'Diceman'. Photo: Colm McDermott

Christopher Samuel Carroll in 'Diceman'. Photo: Colm McDermott

Anyone who has lived in Dublin in years past and is over 30 remembers Thom McGinty, aka The Diceman. He was one of those Dublin characters who materialises from time to time, each so different from the next - Zozimus, The Pope O'Mahony, Bang Bang - but similarly clasped to the collective heart of the city.

McGinty, a blow-in from Scotland, arrived in 1976 with street theatre experience behind him. In Dublin with little cash, he began busking in the famed Dandelion Market. His professional moniker originated as the name of a games shop he helped to advertise. The name stuck and McGinty evolved into a Dublin landmark and cherished presence on Grafton Street. His untimely death from AIDS in 1995 was marked by Grafton St. coming to a standstill as his coffin passed.

Christopher Carroll's scripting includes some well-chosen vox pop from shop owners, flower sellers and other buskers who lived in The Diceman's world, and lends additional credibility to an otherwise well-constructed narrative. Carroll provides much back story effortlessly, and does not rely too heavily on replicating The Diceman's mimetic routine. When he does, however, his performance is convincing and graceful, and he has the physique to carry it off.

As Thom McGinty was well-aware, mime can provoke a variety of reactions, some not positive. Its silence also distances the audience, making for a 'cold' art form. The Diceman's persona overcame the limitations of the genre to instill great warmth into his performance, and this too is captured by Carroll's text and performance, aided by La Cosa Preziosa's (aka Susanna Caprara) deft sound engineering and excellent costuming choices by Maria Tapper who foregoes the classic Diceman silver, and goes for exotic Egyptian blue and gold to lend colour to the production. A life mask of McGinty hangs on the far wall, reminding us of the man and the artist.

This is a fine tribute piece to a unique artist. If you knew The Diceman you will love it; if you didn't you couldn't get a better introduction.

Christina Hunt Mahony, who directed the Center for Irish Studies at the Catholic University of America, now lectures in Trinity College. She is the editor of Out of History: Essays on the Writings of Sebastian Barry.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Diceman by Christopher Samuel Carroll

26 Sept - 13 October, 2012

Produced by Bare Witness Theatre Company and Bewley's Café Theatre
In Bewley's Café Theatre

Written and performed by Christopher Samuel Carroll

Sound Designer: La Cosa Preziosa

Costume Designer: Maria Tapper

Creative Producer: Bridget Hanley