Edinburgh Fringe 2018
One man tells his tale, so he does, whilst dancing and feeling the beat, feeding off the energy of the music as he goes from being in the scene, being of the scene and being used by the scene. From boy who wants a good time to boy who becomes a father the draw of the beat proves strong within him, bereft without him and he goes back to be the boy from East Belfast, so he does.
Entering from amongst us, Ryan McParland starts to dance and we are caught up in the movement of the dance floor. It becomes a physical narrative as the East Belfast accent translates itself into tales of nights out, of disasters and triumphs and how a man of his time, this time, has to be to survive. He gets with his wee girl and they get a wee girl between them and you hope it would wake up more than the beat, but it delivers his own punch.
This is more than one man. It is every man and the fact that we are watching someone from the heartlands of a Unionist community where that masculinity can be palpable is impressive stuff. What works so well is the rhythm of the monologue alongside the rhythm of the music. It intrigues and drags you into the narrative and the accent has an authenticity that keeps you in its centre.
I loved it and the fact that we watched it in an all white, sterile room that was big enough to accommodate the ideal whilst being intimate enough to allow no escape meant it was as in your face as it needed to be.
It asked a question which I have often pondered working with young men and particularly from a difficult background and it is how dance is valued as a social concept but denied its place when someone might formally seek training. Here it was the dance of an aggressive wee man and not of a balletic synthesis. That level of question pumped out as much as the thudding soundtrack.
Lighting from the sides and around us with one white block centre stage left us without any doubt where our focus should be – the questions being asked – I paid attention. The direction kept our attention there are the performance was never short of compelling.
This asks question both subtly and with an aggressive back beat. It worked on every level and by the end I felt as knackered as our performer must have been. A successful piece of theatre with a sound track to life that will continue to ask questions but always know the answers long before we do – we need to get onto that beat to understand so we do…