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O Go My Man
Opening in the Sudan where Neil (Ewan Stewart) is reporting on the atrocities of the Janjaweed against villages near Darfur, the scene switches to Dublin where he is returning to his wife of fifteen years Zoe (Aoife McMahon) and his teenage daughter Maggie (Gemma Reeves) to break the news that he has a lover, Sarah (Susan Lynch). She has been in a relationship for ten years with photographer Ian (Paul Hickey) but this is disintegrating. Both Neil and Sarah leave their ex-partners longing for revenge. Ian meets a television director Elsa (Denise Gough) whose programmes feature a celebrity chef. Zoe embarks on dating agency videos and using the internet to find a new partner.
Stella Feehily gives us quite a lot of occupational information about each of the serial monogamists. We follow Sarah through the long process of auditions and casting, firstly for an advert for breakfast cereal, then in pantomime and with the compromised financial security of a part in a hospital set soap. Post Sarah, Ian finds success as a photographer and the highlight of the play is the exhibition of detailed and intimate photographs of his time with Sarah without Sarah's knowledge or permission. Some revenge! Elsa has shenanigans with her celebrity chef and Neil feels the need to get back to his career as what is described by another as an 'atrocity tourist'. But although these people mostly live to work rather than work to live, we are left in no doubt that what really excites them is sex and companionship.
Stella Feehily has a wonderful feeling for great acerbic comedy. Elsa declares in a moment of anger, "I think it's about time Africa gave something back!" and Ian tells Sarah in their double confession that his bout of infidelity with Elsa was actually . . . . "In my defence - I was trying to reach out to you." Mossie Smith pops up throughout the play in different roles as Alice who is a chambermaid, a coffee stall assistant, a bag lady, a cleaner. Each time her interjections are comic, her observations spot on and serve to put individual dramas into perspective. For instance in the park where Neil and Zoe's daughter, Maggie (Gemma Reeves) has run away from home, Mossie as a genuine bag lady tells her what life on the streets is really like, "A bed in a doorway stinking of piss and vomit - stumbled on by drunks - groped by perverts."
Under Max Stafford Clark's expert direction the ensemble performances are sound. Susan Lynch is wonderful as Sarah and the confrontation between her and Neil's wife in Sarah's theatre dressing room when Sarah is dressed in fake fur as the cat in Alice is scorching. Ewan Stewart maybe isn't as attractive as he is meant to be to have these women dangling but maybe the thrill of his job is the turn on? The set apertures cleverly change scene from flat to park to airport.
Stella Feehily has given us a play with a twenty first century feel as she examines the ridiculous in pursuit of the unobtainable.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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