Written & performed by Pat Kinevane of Fishamble
Well last night was my first theatre since mid-Dec and I was itching to be there, immersed in performance until sated at least for a night. Fishamble is a Production Company that I was aware of, but was flagged up as being right up my street by those whom are in the know back in England. So it was with excitement that I wandered up to Dublin to go see. As usual I did only a cursory amount of pre- show homework lest I ruin the value of the performance for myself but had looked at the trailer
and read a little about the company and Pat Kinevane who had written and was performing ‘Silent’ , the latter in many places throughout the world to great acclaim.
My expectations were high. I’d considered that he may be interacting with old movie footage of Rudolph Valentino in some clever way or that it would be used to create a date stamp to bring the audience to a particular time and place to create continuity yet abbreviate a complex story. That being a fairly common but effective tool . The dance piece by Earthfall ‘At Swim Two Boys’ used this very cleverly, an exceptional performance that sticks in my mind as if I had only seen it yesterday as opposed to some vague time last year.
I was excited too because during the previous months some of the most astonishing theatre I had seen featured solo performances. Leanne Best in Frank McGuiness’ Matchbox, (Liverpool Playhouse) Jane Arnold in Zdenla Fantlova’s ‘The Tin Ring (The Lowry , Salford) , Rebecca Vaughan ‘Queen Elizabeth 1st’ which she also wrote (Watergate Kilkenny) and that’s just off the top of my head..Lowri Evans is upcoming at the end of this month in Salford, but I saw the’ work in progress’ and plan to see the performance end of Jan. They are all female. So.. would a male sole performer also manage to quash the initial cynicism I had that a solo performer could engage, entertain and frankly hack it as well as those astonishing actresses I’d seen in other productions? Sure the critical acclaim for Pat Kinevane was bountiful and effusive. But I am not a critic, nor am I entirely on the inside neither of the business, nor entirely outside it either. What I am is a dilettante, an addict and a cussid pedant. I’m Joe Public the theatre goer in his worse incarnation!
Well my expectations were high, excitement at a point beyond self-containment after the lack of my type of theatre for the past few weeks . I swear I found all sorts of jobs to do at Chez Carr just to stop me heading to Dublin after breakfast and standing outside the Smock Alley Theatre from 10:00 am waiting for a show that started at 8pm. ..As it was. I got there at 4pm and kicked my heels and ate (very well indeed) at The Stage Door café in Temple bar. If I was a pessimist it would be fair to suggest that I was basically setting myself up for huge disappointment.
I didn't get one.
‘Silent’ was like nothing I have seen before. It was 80 mins of sheer indulgence and what can only be described as privilege. It engaged from the very 1st second and told a tragic story so pointedly and humanely that it was like listening to the best dinner guest you could ever have. Pat Kinevane had found the humour in tragedy and used them both in such a way that you were transfixed and immersed, just as I had hoped to be. He was an actor, a dancer, a mime artist a man, a woman, an effeminate man and an aggressive man , a stand-up comic and a raconteur of the very finest. I felt myself liking him very much and feeling awed as the performance rolled so succinctly and naturally along. Naturally? It is how it felt, but it was not. It was choreographed, rehearsed and practised so it appeared that way.
Tino, named after his father Rudolph who was in turn named after the actor is homeless on the streets as an indirect result of the ultimate suicide of his better looking gay brother Pierce whom he adored but let down. Pierce was outed in a disapproving Ireland as a youth after a fumble with a sailor in an alley. It led to his constant bullying and hounding. Tino led a fairly normal existence, marrying his childhood sweetheart and so forth until discovering booze & losing the plot . The story of both their downfalls and tragedies unfolds through a series of touching and yet frequently witty, characterisations of people & incidents, all of which combines to the bigger picture.
The scene is set on the streets and is acted in an almost schizophrenic flick back and forth between actuality, flashback and re-enactment ..which is where the Rudolph Valentino element is strongest...it’s very smooth, not at all self indulgent and very moving. It tells both stories in a not so much sickly sympathetic way but as most people would never think to consider, yet is so very accurate.
It starts with death although we do not realise it until he end. The only hint being the request to an audience member that ‘if anyone asks..I am not here’ ..at the end we begin to realise that he (Tino) is not there...
I’ll end by saying I met Pat (and a couple of his team post show) and can say with delight and pleasure that the measure of the man that I had made during his performance was wholly accurate. A gentleman, an astute observer and a social anthropologist . It was a nice end to a great day to shake Pat's hand with admiration and utter appreciation for his craft and performance. That every single person in that audience sprang to a standing ovation was due to a very powerful desire from them to acknowledge and try to reciprocate in the only way an audience has available. Recommendation too of course!
‘Silent’ comes to The Watergate Theatre Kilkenny on April 3rd. I’ll be taking a full load. Others are listed here Fishamble Performance Dates
It is a must see. Theatre goer or not.