The boys are back in town
Emmet Kirwan might well be the man of the moment. A staggering turn in THISISPOPBABY’S excellent “RIOT” during last year’s Tiger Dublin Fringe, YouTube videos with hits in the hundreds of thousands, Kirwan’s star is certainly in the ascendant. His award winning “Dublin Oldschool,” a two-hander performed with Ian Lloyd Anderson, has certainly had a lot of people talking since it was originally developed as part of Fishamble’s Show in a Bag in 2014. Indeed, the critically acclaimed “Dublin Oldschool” subsequently went on to play at The Dublin Fringe Festival, Electric Picnic, The Edinburgh Fringe and, more recently, The National Theatre in London. Now the boys are back in town on a blistering buzz, determined to show that the hype was justified. Raw, rapid and relentless “Dublin Oldschool” comes at you with both barrels blazing in an exhilarating production, one that never lets up and takes no prisoners.
In a late night, dubstep Dublin of doped up raves and rude boys, a wannabe, never-gonna-be D.J. named Jason, living on a drug fuelled diet of hip-hop, hardcore and house, runs into a homeless heroin addict, Daniel, a man with a new plan and an all too close connection. Recently returned from London, Daniel might be fooling himself with Foy, or he might really be getting clean. But brotherly love isn’t what it used to be and Jason wants none of it. Until he needs to borrow some money to score for himself. But that’s okay, he still holds the higher ground because party drugs aren’t as dangerous as heroin, or so the argument goes. Weaving a path through close calls and close encounters, friends, ex’s and doppelgangers, Jason might try to constantly check out, but no matter what he does he can never seem to leave. The rave might last a lifetime or a weekend, but the needle always returns to the start of the record. But is it really a second chance, or is it just history repeating itself?
In Kirwan’s excellent spoken word drama, delivered with the ferocity of a poetry slam, the 1990s are the new retro and Oldschool is the name of the frame. Feeling at times like Mark O’Rowe’s “Howie the Rookie” meets Irvine Welsh’s “Ecstasy,” Kirwan’s word weaving tale of two brothers in search of redemption uses words as objects, whose rhymes, raps and rhythms crackle with energy that hits you like a pulsing, thumping beat. A beat you can only surrender to. Director Philip McMahon does an outstanding job channelling the forces unleashed by Kirwan’s words, with lighting designer Sarah Jane Shiel’s wonderfully evoking “Dublin Oldschool’s” dreamily dark, sub-textual undertones. Under McMahon’s astute direction, Kirwan turns in a terrific performance as the self-deluded D.J. Jason, as does Ian Lloyd Anderson playing Daniel, as well as the proverbial cast of thousands. Indeed, it’s impossible to fault Lloyd Anderson, or praise him enough, for what is a thoroughly entertaining and utterly riveting performance
In a post “Love/Hate” climate, all too often works readily claim to explore the gritty underbelly of Dublin. All too often such works prove to be pretenders to the throne. “Dublin Oldschool” is the real deal. Like the secret raves and drug induced experiences it references, “Dublin Oldschool” is wild and dangerous, and an experience best understood by being yielded to. If you missed it first time, catch it now. If you’ve already seen it, catch it again. For this is Dublin. This is Oldschool. And this has all the makings of a modern classic. Never to be missed.
“Dublin Oldschool” by Emmet Kirwan runs at The Project Arts Centre until February 4th before going on national tour, returning to The Project Arts Centre from February 13th to February 18th
For more information, visit The Project Arts Centre