Paddy Goes to Petra by Aine Ryan. The Brockley Jack Studio, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 to 5 November 2022. 4****. William Russell.

The latest in the Brockley Jack Studio’s short run pieces is a moving tale about overcoming grief in quite the most unusual way and the strangest of places. It is a monologue performed with great sensitivity by Brendan Dunlea as Paddy, an Irish farmer whose son Kieran h as committed suicide leaving him and his wife bereft. What they do is, their son having left money, is use it to travel and one of the places they end up in is Petra the rose red city half as old as time. But Paddy’s wife has other ideas as to what she would like to do to assuage her grief – which is to sleep with other men. This does not phase Paddy. Theirs is a long marriage and sex no longer is what keeps them together. But he in turn discovers a love – it is Petra where he settles down, makes friends with some locals, discovers his own special cave dwelling and – pretending he has lost his passport – sends his wife off to Cyprus where she meets yet another man. It sounds bizarre, but actually it is so movingly told – and there are some funny moments in between – that one goes along with Dunlea as he recounts what happens to them – actually he ends up back in Ireland missing his beloved Petra, the life style in rural Ireland is quite different, yet happy enough and writing about it all.

It really is too short a run for a polished piece of work with something really interesting to say.

Paddy:Brendan Dunlea.

Director: Aine Ryan.

Music: Eyal Arad & Cait Ni Riain.

Set Design: Constance Comparot.

Lighting Design: Alex Forey.

Production Photograph: Steve Gregson.

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