Oisin McKenna’s one-man show is about London, loneliness, laziness, love and more.
There’s many a spoken word show about the injustices of capitalism, Thatcherite privatisation, and the difficulties of being gay in the modern world. McKenna’s show achieves the complex feat of synthesising all this in a beautiful, 55 minute, rage against the system, all the while maintaining a sing-song ‘so let me tell you about my day’ tone.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with barefaced anger against the government; indeed, it’s all the more justified in times such as these. There is, however, something a safe bet in criticising Thatcher and the impact of her Right To Buy policy on gentrification in East London. Especially given that Thatcher’s been out of office for nearly 30 years: her impact might still be fresh, but it isn’t exactly news, either.
McKenna’s target is still Thatcher’s destruction of social welfare, but his scope is simultaneously infinitely wider and infinitely more specific. The show is entirely made up of simple descriptions of his day, the places he goes to, the people he meets. It touches on a host of themes, largely centred around just getting by, and sacrifices one makes to ‘keep up appearances’. Every line is delivered with a kind of delightful reckless abandon, at once despairing and also revelling in it all.
He talks about warehouse clubs in Hackney, trying to find love, Theresa May’s dancing skills, trying not to eat. Every line is delivered in the present tense; ‘I am lying in bed, watching videos about activated charcoal’, ‘I am going to work now, and I am late’. There is a relentless sense of the present and the past collapsing into a repetitious feeling of everything and nothing happening over and over again.
McKenna’s performance is quite restrained, maintaining a sense of despair and resilience. He sits atop an enormous bar stool, suggesting that he is trapped by trying to look good. The most beautiful moment comes when reflecting on Theresa May’s rendition of ‘Dancing Queen’, while simultaneously anticipating the end of a relationship. He mimics May’s dancing, noting the visual similarities to a penguin. The image is of treading water: just about floating, just a moment away from sinking.
Review by Thomas Froy
Oisin McKenna is described by the Irish Times as “one of the most promising spoken word artists in the country, who avoids misty-eyed accounts of society and instead cuts through with brilliant observational political commentary.” Using humour and satire his work explores complex political issues from a queer perspective. Recently, he was commissioned by Paines Plough to develop his short play Snowflake and perform it as part of Come To Where I’m From at Dublin Theatre Festival 2017. Writing credits include Gays Against the Free State (Dublin Fringe Festival, 2016, Judges Choice Award nominee); GRINDR / A Love Story (Dublin Fringe Festival 2013). In June 2017, his performance video ‘Gay, Male, Votes Fine Gael’, was viewed over 120,000 times on Facebook over the course of 3 days, sparking national debate in Ireland, as well as gaining national and international media coverage.
Performer and Writer: Oisin McKenna
Director: Darren Sinnott
Producer & Lighting Design: David Doyle
Composer: Anna Clock
Design: Michael Hankin
Images: Roisin Murphy
Poster Design: Jamie Farrell
27th-28th February 2019