Fishamble Theatre Company
Written and performed by Pat Kinevane
Directed by Jim Culleton
Set Design by Ger Blanch
Lighting Design by Pat Kinevane, Jim Culleton and Marie Byrne
Composer and Sound Design by Denis Clohessy
by Ryan Crown (24th October)
Tino McGoldrig is homeless. His habitat is a dirty brown blanket in the doorways of Dublin. Brain-addled by alcohol and mental illness, haunted by the ghosts of a past life, he weaves a tale of shadows, sorrows and silenced dreams. He is the story behind the cardboard sign, the chewed-up coffee cup, the wild or weary expression. Silent sheds light on the dark recession-era of Ireland and demands understanding for those we otherwise might look down upon.
Conceived, written, and performed by Pat Kinevane, an actor whose expressive delivery and balletic physicality create a magnetic stage presence. This is a show that speaks loudly and very deliberately to two of modern Ireland’s most unpalatable issues: the ever-growing problem of homelessness, and the failings of a mental health service unable to adequately care for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Tino mocks the HSE’s (Health Service Executive) recent advertising campaign that tells people to ‘look after your mental health.’ ‘If you are in poor mental health, how can you look after yourself?’ Kinevane poses. He explodes an array of irreverent gags at mental health hotlines that you guiltily have to enjoy, such as “If you are obsessive, compulsive, press one repeatedly.’
Silent is unendingly bleak in subject matter but Kinevane’s balance of darkness and humour is crucial to the play’s success. From the moment he appears with his shorn head, scuffed black morning coat and ripped tracksuit bottoms emerging from a mist of glitter, Tino’s manner subverts expectations. This is not a person to be simply pitied, nor someone to fear. He is a deep and rounded human being, one that can make us laugh and think and mourn. His journey from start to finish is uproariously funny, he enlivens the most macabre and tragic of circumstances with an inimitable wit and colour. Tino traces his journey from his brother’s suicide in Cobh, to being pissed on in a Brown Thomas doorway by a group of ‘rugby lads…on their way out of Lillies Bordello’ and beyond, with a series of gleeful anecdotes and poetic asides.
Denis Clohessy’s composition and sound design is anything but silent – coins hitting the bottom of a jar, the shuffle of feet on a pavement and a jumble of memories recalling events of McGoldrig’s life – Kinevane goes right under the skin of his character and inhabits him through the life he has now, the good adult life he gained and lost, and the earlier life of his challenging growing years. Jim Culleton’s accomplished direction knows when to let Kinevane use his body to expansive effect, swimming, running and ballroom dancing around the stage and when to reign him in; when to climb back inside himself or pause in a soft crouch to address a single audience member with a impish smile. Kinevane’s relationship with his audience, the way he engages, charms and disarms them, is remarkable. He speaks to the audience like they are his only friend, his hope, his confidante – they are the only thing keeping him on the stage. Dancing a tango with his shabby blanket and buttonholing the audience with immense charm, Tino refuses to lie down and go quietly.