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  • Chris ORourke

Dublin Fringe Festival 2018: Shame

Shame by Pom Boyd and Sean Millar. Image by Derek Speirs


Let’s Be Punks Again

Pom Boyd is an unreliable witness to her own life and will do anything to prevent you from seeing her. Hopefully, following “Shame,” written by Boyd and Sean Millar, that will no longer be the case. Deeply personal and unrelentingly honest, the autobiographical “Shame” sees Boyd excavating her soul down to the marrow to talk about her own, and her family’s mental health issues. As well as her overwhelming sense of failure, and overwhelming sense of shame because everything she does seems useless. In "Shame" the distance between what you see in your head and how it is, or could be, can be immeasurable and torturous. But only for as long as you continue to let it.

A multi-disciplinary performance, “Shame” sets out to reach the future through the past by way of a 1970s art college sensibility infused with an understated punk energy. Musicians Sarah Kinlen, Kim V Porcelli, and who one assumes is musical director and composer Millar, along with Boyd herself, ignite as a band to reignite Boyd’s punk and post-punk passions. A theatrical concert swamped in props, projections, and strange paraphernalia, “Shame’s” unpredictability and heaviness often resembles a Throbbing Gristle gig from the late 1970s. Albeit one with a little more warmth, humour, and melody.

While visually and musically intriguing, “Shame” is often most impactive when Boyd resorts to direct address and tells it as it is in her plain, unvarnished fashion. Her father’s extreme mood swings, his turning up at one of her shows looking to be let in, her mother’s sense of perpetual shame over a movie she once made, her own sense of perpetual shame about her dancing, about not being able to play drums, about everything she’s ever done. All finally being challenged, allowing Boyd to see, and reclaim, what was always there.

In “Shame” Boyd bravely and beautifully sets out to break the cycle of shame. One often handed down from parent to child. And she invites us to do the same. Not everything in “Shame” works or engages. Indeed the glaring lights are often headache inducing. But one suspects, or at least hopes, that Boyd would raise two fingers, especially to her own negative judgements of herself and her work. For in the end, “Shame” is really about celebration, and Boyd has a lot to celebrate. Poly Styrene couldn't sing. Pom Boyd can't play drums. But when has that ever stopped anyone making art?

“Shame” by Pom Boyd and Sean Millar, runs at The Peacock Stage of the Abbey Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2018 until September 22

For more information, visit The Abbey Theatre or Dublin Fringe Festival 2018

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