Writer: Pat McGrath
Director: Alan King
Reviewer: Alan Foran[rating: 5.0]
The serious business of plastic model making enthusiasts is the focus of Pat McGrath’s new one-man show. What seems at the outset like a quirky piece becomes a very human tale of one man’s struggle not only with small plastic pieces getting lost in the carpet and the pressures of top class modeling, but with the ups and downs that life throws at us.
Finding himself unemployed, Joe, played by McGrath, is able to dedicate more time to building his models, in particular a Sherman Tank which he wants to put into competition. What unfolds is a series of wonderfully observed moments reminiscent of the ordinariness we see in Roddy Doyle, making them instantly relatable, touching and funny. All of these elements are finely controlled and directed by Alan King.
McGrath’s script is a strong, humorous piece, that isn’t afraid to look at the realities of life, something that comes through in McGrath’s performance. Pathos and humour are all delivered with a sense of reality, as if you were sitting down and chatting to him. This allows McGrath to look at the big picture in a human, personal way. Humour is the key to it all, and McGrath displays great comic timing and writing, building up to the punch line. But it is not all about laughs, as we see a vulnerable side that has the audience rooting for Joe, and rightly so. Joe is the everyman we know too well, something the audience responds to, as well as the obsessiveness of the hobbyist.
The ‘mancave’ set has a wonderful feel to it, an oasis from the world, made up of a work desk full of models and tools, and around the wall are various boxes and posters. The use of models to depict certain scenes with Joe and his wife, all from his perspective, give us a different focus, while keeping the model motif going. Music is used from time to time, especially in the final moments, but thanks to good sound by David Gillespie, it never over powers. Colm Maher’s lighting is wonderful, particularly in the opening of the model press. If there was one downside it would be that the venue itself got particularly warm.
This piece has heart and soul, with a character that is real and warm, not to mention a fantastic performance by McGrath. It is an honest, delightful down to earth piece that doesn’t try too hard, and is all the better for it.
Runs until 18 September, 2013