• Chris O'Rourke

Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay


Conor Burke in Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay. Image uncredited


***

Conor Burke's one man comedy Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay is apt to leave you frustrated. Not because its gay, lonely, customer support advisor, Malachy, claims he isn't here to talk about his sexuality, then talks about little else. Nor because he claims he's not going to go on about his brother Fiachra's death, then goes on about his brother Fiachra's death. Whose suicide serves solely as a device to upset the self-obsessed Malachy. Nor is it because it's a generally poor show. It's actually smart, funny and extremely enjoyable most of the time. No, it's because of the clear and certain knowledge that Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay could have been remarkable had Burke just dug a little deeper.


Suffering an existential, quarter life crisis with the emotional intensity of a heavy sigh, Malachy attempts to resolve it with some shallow soul searching. Culminating in twenty-five life lessons gathered onto cue cards, most about as meaningful as a Kardashian's shopping spree. He's single, living at home with his parents, no one has a problem with him being gay, and his best friend is his colleague and former room mate, the gorgeous, smart, party loving Pauline, she of the bouncing headboard. Also, he's great at his job. Following a crackingly funny opening, what follows is less a play so much as a series of shuffled sketches loosely threaded together in which Malachy tries solve his first world problems. The whole bordering on being a stand-up comedy routine. Making it clear that should Burke ever decide to go that route, he might well be brilliant.

Conor Burke in Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay. Image uncredited


Under Lesley Conroy's astute direction, Burke is made to shine with only a microphone. Aided by some well timed lighting and sound by Aiden Cooney. In fairness, it's not hard to make Burke shine, he's the best thing about Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay. Looking as if possessed by the ghost of a depressed Peter Kay, Burke works the room like a comic maestro. His timing exquisite, his expressions enough to double you up or stop you in your tracks. His singing of the Spice Girls Two Become One…well, no one's perfect. If the true purpose of Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay is to showcase Burke's considerable talents it's a double edged sword. For while Burke shows abundant talent, the play is found wanting.


Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay excels at the comedically observational, especially of the world around. Yet its efforts at drama fall considerbly short. With nothing at stake, efforts at depth have the same intensity as listening to someone pass themselves off as traumatised because the world won't do what they want it to. You don't buy into it. Instead, you get a clearer understanding as to why they're single: they've no consideration for anyone else. While that's partially the point, dramatically the point is weakly made. Ironically, Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay proves deeper, funnier and far more insightful when being unapologetically shallow.


Like Malachy on a good day, Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay is funny, charismatic and extremely likeable. It really is great craic, until it starts whinging. If, ultimately, Burke is smart enough to discover what to do with that, you wish he'd discovered it before writing the play. Even so, shows like Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay absolutely deserve to be supported. It might not be the finished product, but there's ample here to reward your money and time. With Burke one of Irish Theatre Institute's Six in the Attic for 2022/23, one suspects his next offering might very well be something. As for right now, Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay is a bridge between beginnings and brilliance. Check it out. You might well be seeing a star in the making.


Everything is Grand, and I’m Completely Okay by Conor Burke, presented by Eruption Collective, runs at Smock Alley until August 16.


For more information visit Smock Alley Theatre.


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