Wings of Desire
Meet Graham, Diarmud, and Lydia. Three lost souls, addicted to their pains, negotiating the mean streets of Dublin. Graham, a wannabe recovering heroin addict, enjoys getting drunk on junk. Lydia just likes getting drunk, her job, and her life, being an unmitigated disaster. Diarmud delights in being drunk on bitterness, an addiction fuelled by his demeaning job as usher at the New Coliseum, where the audience feed into his festering hatreds nightly. In "Intercession: Brighton Court” by Owen Jerome Ryan, three damaged people converge over the course of a couple of minutes as their lives risk being radically redeemed. But only if you believe in angels, and are brave enough to let go of your pain.
Tackling philosophical themes in a lightweight manner, "Intercession: Brighton Court” crafts an ambitious story that falls short of its own stated ambitions. Professing to deal in ‘graffiti mixes with Joyce’ as ‘slam poetry fights with podcasts, hipster bars, heroin, death and sex,’ there’s not enough that's meaningful of the latter on display, and practically none of the former in evidence. Delivered as a series of monologues steeped in descriptiveness rather than insight, ”Intercession: Brighton Court” labours what are essentially three character studies peppered with a geography lesson on a small corner of hipster Dublin. If "Intercession: Brighton Court” aspires to a grimy, CBGB’s styled, hardcore grittiness at times, its cliched world rarely feels more dangerous than an untidy bedroom, even if it compensates with a little edginess near the end. A handbrake turn around the midway mark sees "Intercession: Brighton Court” skidding into It’s A Wonderful Life territory, wherein monologues give way to less inspiring lectures, and some unconvincing Freudian justifications as to why everyone is as they are. If the end proves charming, and convenient, broaching some interesting questions of choice, it's not enough to do "Intercession: Brighton Court” justice, having left most of its big questions unanswered.
Yet all that said, there is something going on in Ryan’s ambitious script which keeps you captured. Making "Intercession: Brighton Court” feel like it was almost something very, very special indeed, with moments of humour and heart and quiet intensity. Something which might have manifested itself more had Ryan not directed his own writing but placed it in the hands of a demanding director. One who would have challenged Ryan’s tendency to overwrite descriptively and under develop his themes and metaphors. A director who might have better met the challenges of staging a series of monologues interrupted by some brief interactive interludes. Something Ryan, as director, never looks confident doing, employing unnecessary shouting, poor composition, and hurried pace that see his generally tight cast looking left to their own devices. A lack of confidence echoed in some appallingly immature light and sound designs, which overplay their hands in trying to compensate for what they think isn’t there, becoming intrusive and awkward, thereby undermining their own genuinely striking moments. Only a somewhat impressive set, evoking a darkened alleyway, looks like it’s up to the job.
As are the majority of the cast. Ethan Dillon’s Graham is superbly crafted, with Dillon taking the scraps made available to him and fashioning something truly engaging. As does Carla Burke as the anxious Lydia, with Burke suggesting she has a lot more to offer if her director knew how to channel it. Eoin O’Sullivan proves marvellous as the bitterly twisted Diarmud, who makes his daily irritations at the world feel uncomfortably recognisable. Ruth Lehane as a shabby Terminating Angel, looking like she strolled in from a Goth’s Gay Pride Parade, often seems like she’s not had enough stage time to properly settle.
Looking like a series of short stories that wants to be a play, "Intercession: Brighton Court” deals in disharmonized opposites that fail to make its prayer for salvation properly heard. If it feels like a new work by an inexperienced writer, it's a writer who hints of a serious amount of promise. Even if its director might need to re-open the text books, or else stay away from directing his own writing. Like its three characters, "Intercession: Brighton Court” can lose its way for being not quite sure what it wants, and not being clever enough to go anywhere really new. But there’s something looking to find expression in "Intercession: Brighton Court,” which is genuinely captivating, even if it doesn't quite get there.
"Intercession: Brighton Court” by Owen Jerome Ryan, presented by Halo Productions, runs at The New Theatre until August 31st
For more information, visit The New Theatre.