by Pat Kinevane.
Soho Theatre Upstairs 21 Dean Street W1D 3NE To 25 July 2015.
Runs 1hr 35min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7478 0100.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 18 July.
Perfect fit of script and performer.
This modern descendent of the Ancient Mariner emerges from the blanket in which he’s presumably been sleeping rough, takes off his head-cap to reveal a hairless scalp and looms over the Soho audience in as way that might be threatening – as he says, no-one’s going to disturb him overnight in a shop doorway – but has an insinuating charm and ready humour.
If it’s being Irish gives him the manner of someone from a missing Samuel Beckett monologue, it’s not a matter of accent only, but the terse, vivid style of Kinevane’s script, with its jumps demanding we keep up, its changes in tone and subject and oblique references tied into a cohesive narrative that seems to be going nowhere but ends having given us a panoramic view of life from an unusual, uneasy angle.
This is an urban life measured not in coffee spoons but controlled swigs from a wine-bottle, a life that asserts (believably) that many people on the streets keep themselves cleaner than some who have hot and cold running water for their private use. In the flowing consciousness keeps recurring Pearse, the dead brother persecuted back in holy Ireland for his sexuality.
Silent, and unseen also, is the mental illness that leads many to the streets, disabled by an unsympathetic, uncomprehending society. If the noticeably sinuous movements, in clothing suggesting rehearsal wear, imply a link to ballet, Tino’s name recalls Rudolph Valentino, sleeper on park benches turned ballet star – a switch in fortune that could go either way.
Fear of the street-dweller who accosts us isn’t mainly physical; it’s a reminder of the insecurity anyone can face. The loss of a job, the collapse of a synapse or two and life’s blown from under us.
Forceful moments prevent complete relaxation, while the momentary camaraderie as Tino strikes-up conversations with audience members – asking questions, making comments in relaxed craic style – sometimes transmutes into angry reminiscence as he turns away, struck by some thought or memory.
Outside, Tino would be ignored or avoided. Which is also the point made by the power and wit of Kinevane’s script and performance.
Tino: Pat Kinevane.
Director: Jim Culleton.