Writer and Performer: Pat Kinevane
Director: Jim Culleton
Reviewer: Monica Insinga
Following the continued success of his first two solo pieces, Forgotten and Silent, Pat Kinevane now adds a third impressive performance, Underneath, that seemingly nicely complements the first two.
Bold and unafraid of going where others have only dared to look, Underneath explores the eternal and yet extremely contemporary conflict between skin-deep beauty and those that go through life without it, constantly mocked, rejected and pushed aside. Everything in this production pushes us to question these tenets, to re-evaluate superficial priorities, highlighted by the contrasts embedded within all aspects of the show.
True to his chameleonic trademark style, Kinevane embodies the features of a disfigured young nameless woman, whose tragedy, if not for being struck by lightning as a child, could be the same as every other person’s going through life being “cast aside because of their outer shell” (Kinevane). Loaded with layers of meaning, the title of the play serves as a reminder for the audience to look for hidden values, and it’s portrayed quite literally in the disquieting 5-feet-under setting.
The shock caused by being immediately introduced to the protagonist’s grave as the setting (directly addressing the audience from her eternal rest), is also almost immediately set aside by Kinevane’s irreverent comical style, perfectly capable of making fun of “the obsession in the world with beauty and the fashion industry” (Kinevane); and yet the play also reminds us that the it was inspired by the glorious ancient Egyptian Empire dominated by their immortal beauty and death cult.
Far from being sentimental, Kinevane balances out the deep questions this play interrogates with tongue-in-cheek humour, greatly supported by the built-in visual contrasts in the black and golden setting, costumes and make-up, and seamlessly directed by the artistic director of Fishamble, Jim Culleton. Imbued with mostly inspired music and dance from start to end, the show’s climax is capable of reminding us to accept ourselves for who we are (beauty notwithstanding), since we could be the next “corpse” and we never know “what’s around the corner”. In national tour for at least the next few months, it promises to be a crowd pleaser judging by the reaction of last night’s audience and standing ovation.
Photo courtesy of the Civic Theatre. Runs until Saturday 21 February 2015 at the Civic Theatre, followed by a national tour.