A Winning Loser
From Paul Mercier’s Studs to Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments, Tommy Tiernan’s Aldi attired skiers to Stefanie Preissner’s lamentable last episode of Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope. The glorification of the lovable Irish loser has become part of our national conversation. Well worn Rockys, with no chance of a sequel, where success never comes calling despite all the best efforts. But sure look it, fuck it, at least we gave it a go. Tapping into the zeitgeist and taking this idea to the next logical level Clare Dunne’s “Sure Look It, Fuck It” examines what happens after the limo drives away, or you make the final but fail to lift the cup, returning home while glory goes looking for another taker. It might sound heavy, but Clare Dunne’s “Sure Look It, Fuck It” is an adorable, one woman delight, fluffed with laughter, singing, some kind of dancing, and enough feel good to leave you with a heart full of joy.
Told with skilful brilliance “Sure Look It, Fuck It” finds Missy, a white Beyoncé with no arse and nothing to lose, undertaking an existential walk of shame. Returning to Dublin after six years in Brooklyn, Missy has nothing to show for it. Her fortune unmade, prospects slim, Missy’s looking for a job, a man, salvation, or enlightenment while living back home with her parents. Looking for whatever it takes to make her feel less like a failure. Inspired by motivational TED Talks and one hell of a Hail Mary, Missy begins a journey through a familiarly new Dublin. Meeting old friends with older habits, Missy drops and dances in Coppers, sings and dances with the homeless, and sets about climbing to the sky. But maybe the answer she’s looking for isn’t to be found. Or maybe it was never lost in the first place.
A conversational encounter with a first class storyteller, featuring some brief cameos from Dunne herself, “Sure Look It, Fuck It” ultimately delivers a second class, spoken word tale. Indeed, it really shouldn’t be as adorable as it is. Narratively it’s all been done before. Poetic rhymes telling of a Ulysses styled, drug fuelled romp through Dublin, hints of Drug-lin Oldschool are never far away with Dunne’s observational trip never going anywhere exciting. Original songs might strive to be cute and meaningful, with Dunne’s vocals often being impressive, but a round of reimagined karaoke classics prove to be a lot more fun. If lyrically, and major kudos to Dunne for cleverly working in an acknowledgement of International Poetry Day, Dunne shows a huge amount of sophistication, referencing a range of poetic structures, rhythms and rhyming sequences, even down to the lowly limerick, some words and phrases feel shoe-horned in. Arguably it’s all something of a mess. Yet it’s a glorious mess of near perfection.
What makes “Sure Look It, Fuck It” absolutely irresistible is Dunne herself, whose impeccable performance seduces her audience from the get go and keeps them riveted. Under Tom Creed's superb direction, showing hints of meta-theatrical playfulness, Dunne enlightens and entertains with not an ounce of slack and with an abundance of heart. Ailbhe Dunne, offering live guitar accompaniment onstage, like her music, is something of a delight. Sarah Jane Shiels' minimal lighting poles, and Ivan Birthistle’s understated sound design, add subtlety and nuance, knowing their best contribution lies in letting Dunne command the space, making you laugh, maybe even cry, while getting you thinking and feeling as she works towards finishing big without bellowing.
It would be a grave error to believe that because Dunne presents with such power of personality that what we’re seeing comes easy. As if she just walked onstage and started expressing herself. Even the most cursory glance behind the surface will show that Dunne has paid impeccable attention to detail, in every expression, every gesture, every tone. Granted, it can feel like a talent showcase, but Dunne is unashamedly enjoying herself because she's done all the hard work. And her joy is as infectious as it is a delight to behold. And it’s not to be missed. Indeed, should you miss “Sure Look It, Fuck It,” sure look it, fuck it, isn’t going to cut it. A three star story with a five star performance, be enlightened, be entertained, and be overwhelmingly impressed. Because, ironically, “Sure Look It, Fuck It’s” failure turns out to be one hell of a success.
“Sure Look It, Fuck It” by Clare Dunne, presented by THISISPOPBABY, runs at The Project Arts Centre until March 23.
For more information, visit Project Arts Centre or THISISPOPBABY.