Black Box at Smock Alley
There’s something intriguingly remote about Martin Sharry. His voice is low and unmodulated, his words thick with novelistic detail, his delivery stilted. This biographical solo performance uses similarly dispassionate devices – found objects, photographs, recited texts, a microphone downstage left – for a description of remote lives.
Beginning with his grandfather, the first Martin Sharry, who made his home on Inis Oírr, and moving to his uncle, also Martin, isolated by troubled mental health, the performance is guided by a consideration of his inheritance from both men.
Brought up originally in Ballymun, Sharry feels removed from the customs and Irish language of the Aran Islands. “That knowledge is lost to me”, he says, and there’s something universally poignant in such erosion. Often, though, his performance becomes choked with verbiage, long recitations from two books of his grandfather’s, or a schizoid monologue where no director has been retained to distinguish between signal and noise. Asking us, at one point, to consider the artificial neatness of narrative and the characteristics of ‘outsider art’, he may hint that we employ similar criteria here. Not everyone will indulge him, but outsiders don’t play by the rules.