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  • Chris O'Rourke

How To Fall Flat On Your Face

How To Fall Flat On Your Face, written and performed by Katie Honan. Image Colin Shanahan


When it comes to story, Katie Honan’s one woman marvel How To Fall Flat On Your Face is as dull as dishwater. Waterford girl meets Waterford boy at the hotel where they work. Anna a receptionist, the swaggering Conor working in the gym. They meet, move in, watch disaster movies on a couch with a dent in its leg, and commemorate their anniversaries while living happily ever after. Until the arrival of gym manager Sandra who throws a spanner into Anna's idealised life. Anna knowing only too well what Sandra and Conor are up to. It’s as plain as the nose on her face. The one that got broken after a fall at a Tube station in London when she was eating rice crackers. Or was that fixing her scarf? Her unscarred hands failing to break her fall. Honan’s observational banalities, like Anna, serving as a calm beneath which an idling storm awaits. In which one woman hitting emotional rock bottom is made viscerally unforgettable by a performer at the top of her game.

Narratively there’s not that much going on. A night in an NHS A&E unit sees Anna recounting her life’s journey interspersed with observations of the world around her. The experience less one of listening to a story so much as sharing in an encounter. A detailed character study in which Honan makes past and present unfold as if in real time via a spellbinding lexicon of nuanced shifts in body, tone and voice. Realising a total expressiveness in which inner and outer worlds are shifted between seamlessly. As are a multitude of beautifully realised characters. Honan making silent phone calls hit home with the force of a heartbreak. All beautifully rendered under Luke Kernaghan’s assured direction. If pace rushes on occasion, with certain phrases delivered too low, it matters little. Honan’s mesmerising physicality and commanding presence has everything covered. Her psychological probing of the abandonment issues experienced by an orphan raised by her grandparents discloses Anna's strategies for survival without battering you with psychobabble. If it never probes deep enough, it captures Anna’s attempts at perfection unraveling wildly. And even if the big reveal falls short, and judicious pruning could have made for greater impact, the ending still manages to bring it all home.

Throughout, Jamie Beamish’s oppressive sound design, barely present, felt more than heard, suffuses like atmospheric pressure before a storm. Eoin Byrne’s clinical lights hinting at shadowed depths lurking beneath their cold exterior, echoed in Deirdre Dwyer’s minimal set. But How To Fall Flat On Your Face is all about Honan, whose spectacular performance is a joy and a privilege to watch. If, textually, How To Fall Flat On Your Face presents as an unsteady finger pointing at the moon, performatively Honan journeys through emotional galaxies in which every second something new is revealed. A four star story wrapped in a sensational five star performance, catch this comet before it blazes out of sight.

How To Fall Flat On Your Face, written and performed by Katie Honan, runs at Project Arts Centre until November 18.

For more information visit Project Arts Centre


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