While howling at the moon fuelled by a bottle of cheap cider probably isn't an uncommon pursuit for men of a certain age, few have maybe done it with quite so much venom or articulacy as Sean Doran, the bruised, battered but ultimately unbowed hero of Pearse Elliot's solo play. As performed by Ciaran Nolan in Tony Devlin's production for the West Belfast based Brassneck Theatre Company, Sean's litany of life, death and loss at every level is transformed from what could merely be bleak into something altogether more appealing as it becomes leavened by a gallows humour that falls somewhere between Runyonesque and Commedia dell'arte.
On one level, Sean's bench-bound reverie through which walk, run or lollop a cast of characters christened with street-smart nick-names who have barely survived the Northern Irish Troubles - “the black and white years” as Sean immortalises it – is as specific as it gets to a West Belfast housing estate. On another, much of Sean's sense of disenfranchisement, emasculation and an all too familiar retreat into gambling and drink could mark the territory of any poverty-stricken working-class community shoved to the physical and metaphorical margins.
All of which seems tailor-made for the Tron's Football Colours Allowed season. As Sean, Nolan flips from the depths of social-realist despair to grotesquely comic tales of internet dating, gate-crashing wakes and a Karl Denver sound-tracked lurch into exotic fantasy. Clocking in at just under two hours, there's probably an entire mini-series in Elliott's script, which is punctured throughout with richly colourful unreconstructed patter and forensic observations on privilege in a dark but ultimately life-affirming confessional.
The Herald, March 9th 2015