Your Only Man
It’s been said the Irish male has solved every conceivable problem known to man. The only problem is, he forgets the solutions the following morning when he sobers up. Two high stool philosophers, their minds sharpened and lubricated by drink, take centre stage in Roddy Doyle’s hilarious “Two Pints,” which sees Doyle’s hugely successful Facebook sensation translated to the stage, so to speak, touring to over twenty pubs around Ireland as part of The Abbey Theatre on Tour. So kicking it all off in one of Doyle’s Barrytown favourites, The Foxhound Inn, seems only appropriate. You might struggle to find a van outside selling a Dunphy and chips nowadays, but with “Two Pints” you can still enjoy lashings of Doyle’s wit, warmth and wisdom in what is a seriously enjoyable, laugh out loud production.
As is often the case, in “Two Pints” alcohol serves as a neat dramatic device to get men talking beyond their brilliant drivel, giving them an out for letting their guard down so they can discuss issues of a more personal nature. The personal issues in this instance being the long, lingering dying of a father in Beaumont Hospital. Amidst hilarious reflections on Nigella Lawson, hospital carparks, the attractiveness of powerful women and endless ‘what if’ scenarios, many revolving around a German football team in the afterlife, personal truths leak in. About children who died, health fears, fathers and sons finally saying what needed to be said, the dread of waiting for that final phone call. Powerless to control death or where they were born, they can at least control everything else by way of elucidating on all forms of current affairs. If, in the end, all they know is that it’s all a load of nonsense anyway, their stoic acceptance might well belie an emotional rawness simmering below the surface.
In “Two Pints” Doyle’s hilarious observational snippets, many of an insightfully serious bent, are interwoven with a simple, but effective, narrative of a man waiting for his father to die. If it seems like the characters talk a lot but say little of real importance, listen closer. Meditations on death and dying, on privilege and power, weave seamlessly with hilarious tales of horse hair and male strippers to present an extraordinarily rich tapestry. Yet with characters ultimately conceding ground to their humorous observations and never really going anywhere, “Two Pints” becomes more concerned with the journey rather than the destination and ends up feeling a little longer than it needed to be. All of which impacts on the ending which, when it arrives, essentially fizzles out rather than delivering on the promising pay-off it seemed to offer. But if “Two Pints” falls flat on occasion, it’s the exception rather than the rule, and if ultimately of dramatically low intensity, there’s still more than enough going on to keep it engaging. More importantly, it is chock-a-block with laughter. Wonderfully realised by two first class performances from Liam Carney and Lorcan Cranitch, permanently engaged in an endless sparring match for male one-upmanship. Carney’s self-superior dismissiveness battling Cranitch’s delightfully drunken forgetfulness is a joy to watch, delivered with all the charm and finesse of a top-class, comedy double act performing with irresistible chemistry. Superbly directed by Catríona McLaughlin, McLaughlin marries broad comedy with a near hyper realism into something utterly credible and delightful.
Like Flann O’Brien's “Thirst,” Roddy Doyle's “Two Pints” pays tribute to that breed of men who spend forty years drinking themselves to death in an effort to rage against the dying of the light. Men who today might indeed be something of a dying breed, their way of life a dying culture soon to be relegated to the rare aul times. In our health driven, over regulated, five a day society, with many well-known watering holes regularly closing, the high stool philosophers might soon become a thing of the past as science and society embraces new norms for drinking. In “Two Pints” you get to glimpse the men behind their alcohol fuelled tales, their hilarious and occasionally heart-breaking stories holding a mirror up to us as much as up to themselves. A joyously, life affirming production, “Two Pints” is full of beans and overflows with laughter, with two terrific performances by Carney and Cranitch. Catch them in their natural habitat in a production not to be missed. With surprisingly few Dublin dates, one can only hope it makes a return. For, to paraphrase another famous Dubliner; '"Two Pints", it’s your only man.'
“Two Pints” by Roddy Doyle, tours nationally as part of The Abbey Theatre on Tour until August 5th
12 July – The Village Inn, Deansground, Kilkenny (National tour launch)
13 July – Downes, 10 Thomas Street, Waterford
14 July – Mannions Pub, Mount Elliot, New Ross, Wexford
17 July – Caseys, Monteensudder, Glengarriff, Cork
18 July – Páidí Ó’ Sé’s Pub, Dingle
19 July – Dolans Warehouse, 4 Dock Road, Limerick
20 July – Fanny O’Dea’s. Clare
21 July – Kennedys, Puckaun, Tipperary
24-29 July – Galway International Arts Festival (On sale 19 June at GIAF)
1 August – (Nevins New Field Inn, Mayo
2 August – Tricky McGarrigals, 11/12 O’Connell Street, Abbeyquarter North, Sligo
3 August – Cryans Bar, On the Quay, Carrick on Shannon, Leitrim
4 August – Blakes The Hollow, 6 Church Street, Eniskillen, Fermanagh
5 August – Simpsons Bar and Restaurant, Tulnaree, Carndonagh, Inishowen, Donegal
For more information, visit The Abbey Theatre