Project Arts Centre, Space Upstairs
“Our matriarchs are the keepers of our flame,” Emmet Kirwan professes in his new performance piece, which traces his transformation from boy to man to father. Prompted by the birth of his first son, the actor-writer explores his working-class roots and the vulnerability of his social position in a contemporary Ireland governed by capitalists. Part stand-up comedy, part free-form verse poem, part political protest, part love letter to his wife and son, the piece, as Kirwan admits while it unravels, has a point that “is as yet undetermined”. But the high aesthetic quality and authenticity of emotion in this production elevate the 60-minute performance beyond any of its individual flaws.
Director Claire O’Reilly finds room in Kirwan’s dense, chaotic monologue for moments of vigorous theatricality, using a glitter bomb, for example, with sinister and genuinely surprising effect. Zia Bergin-Holly’s lighting provides a visual pulsing heartbeat that complements Eoin French’s haunting womb music. The material may be messy, but the effect reaches moments of astonishing beauty.