Edinburgh Fringe 2015
This is a story full of nostalgia, innocence, Olympic standard sex and holy water salad dressing: Funny and tender.
Seamus O’Rouke is a fine actor. He is a magnificent storyteller and a beautiful writer. All three of these magnificent attributes come together in Padraig Potts Guide to Walking. This is a coming of age story but it takes a very long time for Padraig to really come of age. It is very Irish, very Catholic, very touching all at the same time. O’Rourke brings his characters to life (for he plays them all..switching mood, sex and age by the inflection of his voice alone) as he takes us through the inevitable conflicts of growing up, understanding our parents as people and compromising the love of our lives with the one that makes sense with no excitement. Padraig falls in love with Sylvia Lane when he is 13 and she opens her blouse for him to see what is inside. He marries Mary Teague because she is the one who cares for his parents and keeps the church clean.
He doesn’t love her but he needs her and it isn’t until he realizes that marriage involves a lot more than living together and keeping the place tidy that he begins to really live his own life instead of following a conventional pattern that means nothing to anyone who tries to live it The show traces its hero as he tries (and often fails) to make sense of a life locked between the old world ruled by religion and the new one that we think is ruled by our hearts. Padraig accepts what he must but does not have the courage to break through the limits others prescribe for him until he is fifty. He has left his wife, Mary and he realizes that all it takes to create happiness and satisfaction is making a decision and sticking to it. “I decided to go back to Sylvia Lang.”
He finally had the courage to listen to his heart. This is a lovely story where “God was the one who took the knees out of our trousers”. When his parents wanted to have sex, his mother told him she was washing the floor so he would stay out of the house. The plot is charming, and the pace is punctuated by O’Rourke removing and repositioning blocks that form the backdrop on stage. He becomes all the characters in his panorama of Irish life at the end of the last century and never misses a beat. His performance is breathtaking. He is charming, the story compelling and the staging, pace and direction compelling.
An hour and a half melts away filled with smiles and rekindled memories of our own struggles through puberty and adulthood to the miraculous fifties when at least we can do whatever the hell we want. I loved this show.