Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Life and a bottle of whisky!

At the Sherman

Sherman Theatre-Dublin Carol , Sherman Theatre Cardiff , February 6, 2018
At the Sherman by Sherman Theatre-Dublin Carol You can see in the picture of John that engaging ‘Irish’ smile that all Irishmen always manage to find in the face of adversity. His great adversary is the whisky bottle, it also a soul mate. Dublin Carol is very much his story. Actor Simon Wolfe totally captures the whole man, the agonies and despairs of his alcoholism and the frustrations that beset him as he tries to force himself to try to deal with the realities of life.

Once again multi-award winning playwright Conor McPherson shows his skill at capturing the essence of his fellow Irish men and women and putting them into dramatic situations that have us on the edge of our seats. We get the feeling from Wolfe’s totally captivating performance that somewhere inside him there is a decent man but has to fight awfully hard to get out.

He is, with the help of the whisky bottle, constantly looking back at his alcohol-fuelled life. It has
ruined his marriage and lost lost him his mistress and his son. He does always seem to manage to find work to pay for his habit and is able to hold things together to do his job. When we meet him he is working as an undertaker. He has just returned to his sparse home from a funeral and brought one of his coffin bearers back to his place to pay him.

The bearer is the totally opposite of his ‘boss’. Lively, young and with an innocent, youthful smile, Julian Moore-Cook perfectly engages with the reality of his character Mark. He tries to offer John some degree of understanding and companionship. John lets the story of the worst aspects of his recent past pour out of him, to his new young sympathetic friend.

Mark leaves and John is soon visited by his daughter, Mary. One of the strengths of this production is the realism the actors bring to the characters they play. Siwan Morris is so completely Mary. She loves her father very much but equally is frustrated by his drinking. She is even able to bring a drop of tenderness out of him. She arranges to return soon to take him to visit his wife who is in hospital dying of cancer.

In the meantime Mark returns to collect his money. It’s Christmas Eve. John persuades Mark to help him take down his sparse Christmas decorations and pull the last cover of the Advent Calendar.

“There’s nothing worse than decorations after Christmas. That’s the way I sometimes used to feel putting my clothes on in the morning.”

Surprisingly John starts to tidy himself up a bit, combs his hair! He puts his smart undertaker’s overcoat on- the lights fade – is he going to make it?

Following her production of The Weir Artistic Director, Rachel O’Riordan brings back anther great play by one of today’s leading playwrights. We are able to appreciate the artistry with which the acclaimed playwright Conor Macpherson so sensitively and so perfectly captures the souls of his characters.

1 - 17 Feb

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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