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A Dangerman

Summerhall, Edinburgh
Four stars
The man standing on what passes for a stage in Summerhall's tiny Red Lecture Theatre is looking each of the audience in the eye. Without ever cracking a smile, he closes his own eyes, psyching himself up in the silence, before letting rip. The Bible, Karl Marx and the thoughts of Chairman Mao are all intertwined in the man's ramblingly discursive and quietly deadpan monologue, with reality TV, the history of capitalism and a spot of art history thrown in for good measure. At one point he auctions off the script for the show, at another he gets volunteers from the audience to shift boxes around or else take off their clothes to strike some classical poses. He engages them in dialogue about that night's news, and tells them if they don't agree with what they're seeing then they can leave. Some do.

It's a risky strategy, but Galway-based actor/writer Dick Walsh takes no prisoners in his menacing hour-long monologue, first seen on the Dublin Fringe in 2012. Giving voice to the sort of person you'd normally cross the road to avoid, Walsh's study falls somewhere between Peter Handke's genre-subverting monologue, Offending The Audience, and Heathcote Williams' penetrating portrait of the wise fools who put the world to rights in Hyde Park, The Speakers.

As scarifying as the delivery is, Walsh and his alter ego are making some serious points about free will and how far you will go just because someone tells you to do something. As his final act before leaving, the Dangerman appoints a member of the audience to be king, with everyone else his subjects. What happens next is up to us.

The Herald, November 12th 2013


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