A rambling suicide note in audio form dictated on stage by a solo actor might not seem the most promising setting for a fun night out, but My Real Life was a surprisingly enthralling evening laden with as much humour as pathos.
The play, written in the form of an extended monologue by Eoin Colfer, was developed from a shorter version commissioned by Wexford Arts Centre.
Directed by Ben Barnes, actor Don Wycherley is Noel O’Brien, a man afflicted with MS, sitting alone in his room dictating his final thoughts on two sides of a 90 minute old fashioned cassette for his best friend. What lifts the piece from being a moody downer is the sharp quality of the writing and the strength of the acting.
Wycherly’s performance really is that theatrical cliché — a tour de force. He never flags over the course of an A and B side of 45 minutes or so each as he reels out the gags with the timing of a consummate stand-up and draws you into his spiral of reminiscence and regrets. The drawling delivery is a little hard to pick up at first until the ear tunes in and Wexford folk in the audience vouched for the uncanny veracity of his accent.
Colfer’s script is laced with references to1980s pop song lyrics. Fifty-somethings will find themselves transported back to their teenage years with snatches of the likes of Alison Moyet, Wham and Depeche Mode. Colfer is well known for his teenage fantasy fiction and a tongue-in-cheek reference to JK Rowling when Noel admits to not having finished one of the weightier Harry Potter titles draws a few knowing chuckles.
Recent seasons have seen a lull in activity in regional theatres during the summer months and it is encouraging to see work of this quality on a Waterford stage in July.