A Bolt From D'Blue
A Bolt From D’Blue by David Gilna. Image uncredited. *** Whatever it is, David Gilna has it. Charming, good looking, confident, with a professional patter many a chat or game show host would be envious of. Dressed in black, the whiskey connoisseur Gilna is as slick as they come. Yet what makes for a great chat show doesn’t always make for great theatre. Especially when the show is a series of tell-not-show autobiographical anecdotes about the things that blocked Gilna’s rise to stardom. COVID. Dodgy Hollywood executives. Bouts of depression. And the time he was struck by lightning two hours after being offered a part in a major Hollywood movie. Causing his heart to flatline three times, leaving him clinically dead. Affording him a renewed appreciation for the brevity of life. An awareness of the importance of living every moment. And inspiration for his current show, A Bolt From D’Blue. Not that A Bolt From D’Blue makes for bad theatre. As a theatrical experience it’s certainly above average, being essentially a one man monologue delivered with the directness of a stand-up comedian. Yet given the talent at Gilna’s disposal, average sells him short. Like a Vegas showman, Gilna enters and name drops like tossing confetti. Then introduces a warm-up act who showcase their own work. Monday being PJ Brady’s night to shine with his tender tribute to the lusty, liquor loving Patrick Kavanagh. Though, like all warm up acts, he’s really there to drum the audience up for the main event. A Bolt From D’Blue by David Gilna. Image uncredited. Enter Gilna to uproarious applause, who sets about working The Viking like it was the Hollywood Bowl. The result more showman than show. Snippets of singing, vocal impressions, tales of growing up in Swords that makes the 1990s sound like the 1950s. Moving to America to pursue his dream. The people who were there with him and for him, and those taken far too early. At its core is Gilna's desire to conquer America, the actors utopia. With A Bolt From D’Blue having toured there successfully, it can feel like secondhand news as Gilna’s far away gaze skirts above the audience. Making little direct eye contact, there’s less a sense of being confidants so much as Gilna working the room. Attentively picking up on every laugh, every intake of breath, with the sense of connection wading ankle deep. Gilna the star of his own show, the audience there to confirm that, not share in the experience.
Less a confessional so much as a tale with a moral, A Bolt From D’Blue sees Gilna knowing what buttons to push; pain, pause, pathos, laughter. As he takes his final bow to a standing ovation, the feeling borders on the euphoric for some. For others, it’s more like a sugar rush. The whole a revelation where little gets revealed. Gilna, here the whole time, disclosing far less than he appears to without ever being dishonest. A Bolt From D’Blue honing his persona as much as his craft. By all accounts a genuine Mister Nice Guy, Gilna could well go places. The question is where? A Bolt From D’Blue written and performed by David Gilna, runs at The Viking Theatre until February 18. For more information visit The Viking Theatre