Wednesday, 2 August 2017
by Gerry Moynihan
Behind The Walls
Pádraig is a bit of an artiste - he's called upon to perform - to sing - "Once upon a time there was Irish ways and Irish laws" in the pub in the city he calls Derry on St Patrick's Day.
He's also lived through history both literally as a middle aged mechanic from Cold War to 2017 and also keeping alive the flame harking back to Oliver Cromwell's conquest of Ireland through The Troubles.
For he's still a member of what he views as the IRA - the paramilitary Continuity IRA fighting for 32 counties of a united Ireland.
Yet he's living in modern European times as well, having hitched up with a Spanish lover who works as a university administrator, even if the future is now more uncertain.
But he's never believed in the peace process, although at least one close family member has joined the Police Force Of Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile he finds himself in demand for his technical skills and as part of an alternative "legal" set up by men classified as terrorists maiming for life minor drug dealers.
Writer Gerry Moynihan has framed a neat monologue but the evening belongs to Paul Kennedy as the conflicted Pádraig who gradually realises in this 90 minute monologue that he is a man caught between two generations and cannot reconcile the two..
The core of the monologue lays out powerfully and in increments Pádraig's life. There are a few clunky movie references which sound like additional tweaks.
However the ebb and flow of Pádraig's emotions and his increasing understanding of others' inner lives is effectively conveyed, sometimes touchingly and sometimes with disturbing clarity.
While history and organizations seem to have an onward continuity, the grudges and actions are part of a sordid circular internal turmoil.
This is in essence a melodrama where many of the elements may be familiar. Yet there are also some deft touches which put it in both a more global and intimate domestic context, bringing it up to date.
Director Shane Dempsey, with movement direction by Steffany George, insures the solo piece is well-paced with Anna Clock's atmospheric sound effects.
A magnetic, carefully nuanced performance by Paul Kennedy immerses the audience in a world where everyone has only a partial understanding of what is going on and what they are doing, even with a final seemingly defiant act. An amber/green light.