‘Silent’ by Pat Kinevane with Fishamble: The New Play Company at The Town Hall Theatre, Galway on 15.02.12
This one-man show written and performed by Pat Kinevane and directed by Jim Culleton of Fishamble: The New Play Company had an air of excitement to it in the lobby of the Town Hall Theatre. I could sense that a lot of people there were familiar with his work. As the show was also being performed tonight especially for COPE Galway Homeless Services, I think a proportion of the audience were there to support them too.
The stage was visible as we waited for the show to start. It was bare except for a black sack, a wine bottle, and a bowl at either side of downstage, and placards with words in silent-movie-type leaning against the black, bare stage wall upstage. Stage lamps were strewn both sides at the back wall too. The flying bars, with their mounted lamps, hung low in full view. The set, if you could call it that, looked dark, bare and uncomfortable.
The lights went out and a dim rectangle of light appeared on the floor centre stage. It slowly got brighter illuminating bare hands and feet poking out from under a grey woollen blanket. What followed was a totally engrossing 95 minutes of storytelling mastery.
Tino is a homeless man and is called after Rudolph Valentino because his father was a big fan. Well, you couldn’t get through life in small town Ireland in the 80s with a name like Rudolph he gleefully informs us! He tells, through words, sounds, lighting, objects on stage and exquisite and clever movement a tale of love, laughter, loss, suicide, funerals, alcoholism, mental illness, homophobia and guilt. At times I felt like I was watching a very talented stand up comedian and at other times a fellow human being broken and lost.
Tino’s path through life has been a long hard one. It’s a reminder of the real life circumstances and secrets behind every homeless person we care to pass on the street. The sound of the coins dropping into his begging bowl and his banter with the givers is a constant reminder of his reality. They can give and continue on to their homes and families after their day’s work he tells us. He has no home or family to go to – he remains out there – a very daunting thought.
The timing in Denis Clohessey’s soundscape was perfectly executed and the clever lip-synching to pre-recorded speech was never overly used. Jim Culleton’s lightscape emerged from ‘haphazardly’ placed lamps littering the fringes of the stage floor and ‘’hurriedly’ hung lamps on fly bars ‘that were never flown up out of sight’. In a Question and Answer session afterwards, Pat mentioned that this show can be done in daylight without lamps. Thankfully the dark theatre allowed me to witness a swimming scene enacted in blue light near the end of the play. It was, for me, a moment of simple and pure theatre magic. An image of a different kind – that of Marty and Molly – will, I am sure, bring a smile to audience members faces at many a funeral to come. In the end a well deserved standing ovation was immediately and enthusiastically delivered by the entire audience.