As you walk into the theatre above the Old Red Lion you are greeted by a roof complete with tiles, chimney, drain pipe and the fallen brown leaves of Autumn. It’s Halloween night in a small Irish town and Mikey and Casey are high on the rush of running from the police, oh and cocaine.
If You Get More Cocaine, I’ll Show You How I Love You, is the story of two young men in love in modern day Ireland. It is a country torn between the new legalisation of gay marriage, the first public vote in history and the small town mentality of homophobia that festers in a place where being gay was a criminal offence up until 1993. This is a wide topic, but John O’Donovan pares it down to the story between two lovers and fills the piece with beautiful comedy, heartfelt dialogue and a gripping tale.
Alan Mahon as Mikey has a sharp and natural Irish delivery that heightens O’Donovan’s witty lines and is as authentic as they come. The chemistry between the two performers is on point throughout and it is clear to see these two have feelings for each other despite Ammar Duffus’ character, Casey, difficulty in expressing himself. Casey is the nervous, younger character and this is a major sticking point for the couple. Duffus does an admirable job of portraying Casey’s internalised emotion but there was a little too much shirt-ringing and nervous pacing, which detracted from the overall feel of the piece. There were also moments when O’Donovan writing became self-indulgent with language, resulting in a monologue about a high-rise building feeling very stagey and leaving the audience slightly at arm’s length.
The set was a work of genius. So simple, but we truly believed when something fell off the edge of the roof it would fall the twenty feet to the floor. This was realised by how well the pair of performers sold the ‘height’ of the location. Admirable mention goes to Georgia De Grey’s design and Jon McLeod’s sound design which beautifully complimented each other.
The performers and the writer need to be commended for their comic timing too. This play earned the hardest laughs in the first ten minutes of a show for years. But the light-hearted mood can turn on a knife’s edge to incorporate the terrifying realities of being a gay man in Ireland. The vast difference between Casey’s attitude of hiding and pretending, versus Mikey’s full throttle defense of himself and anyone he feels is being victimised is exciting to watch play out. However, there is no rush in getting through the play, scenes take their time and are allowed to breathe. This is just good story telling. The message is strong too: loathing one’s self because of a lack of acceptance, changing to try and fit in and thus hate yourself more. When Mikey recounts his trip to Dublin, are far more gay-friendly city, he is almost disgusted with the men around him for how they act. Is this a jealousy of their freedom or a hatred for what sexuality has become in his eyes?
This is a wonderful play that takes you from side-splitting laughter to a tear drop in a pounding heartbeat. Please go see this show. Both to be informed and entertained.
Runs until 24th September
For more information visit the website