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Review of Bingo by Alan Flanagan at the Pleasance Theatre

Bingo, Pleasance - Alan Flanagan (Credit Lidia Crisafulli)
Bingo, Pleasance – Alan Flanagan (Credit Lidia Crisafulli)

Bingo is playing at The Pleasance until the 24th June. Produced by SLAM the piece is a 60-minute monologue both written and performed by Alan Flanagan. The piece is delivered with passion, care and integrity and is really pacey, it really felt like I was only in watching the performance for about 25 minutes, and at no point did my mind wander, or lose focus on what was going on in front of me. As most of you know, it does take a talented performer to hold an audience’s focus and attention when it is just them and a chair on the stage, and Alan has this talent.

Alan has a tough job as a performer. He is sat on a chair centre stage as the audience enter the auditorium and he takes time to look each person in the eye and make a genuine connection with them. He is alone on the stage for the duration of the piece, no props or scenery to use or hide behind. Alan dutifully rises to the challenge of the script and delivers a really emotive performance. I’d imagine it would be really easy to give an OTT performance, especially with the subject matter as a gay man with HIV. However, via careful and considered direction and a subtle lighting changes, Alan delivers a very balanced performance, hitting the mark with comedy and pathos.

The piece is a reflection of one man’s thoughts, feelings and actions following a careless moment in his life where he let the pleasures of the body override his mind and the life-changing result of doing this. I must point out that although the piece is about one man’s journey with a bouquet of sexually transmitted diseases, it is not preachy, it is not judgemental and is does not advocate or judge anyone who is unfortunate enough to contract sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, herpes, HIV…..

Without giving too much away regarding the script, I can say that my takeaway was “normality”, life goes on regardless – i.e contracting HIV in 2018 is not a life disruptor as it was in the 80s. Instead, it shows that although someone may be living with a bouquet of sexually transmitted diseases, it doesn’t need to be hidden, or shamed. Someone living with HIV is still just as concerned with Netflix box set binges, making friends for life and fighting with their siblings.

All in all well written and thought-provoking piece performed beautifully with integrity.

4 stars

Review by Faye Stockley

In a quest to unspool his sexual history – wanking off another lad in the showers after a Gaelic match, losing his virginity under the watchful eye of a looping ad for Footballers’ Wives, sampling the sexual and pharmaceutical smorgasbord of London – Cormac tells the story about an Irishman and one defining moment…

Following his first ever STI test, Cormac discovers the unthinkable: he’s contracted everything, running the gamut from the potentially lethal to the irrepressibly itchy and back again. The doctor has pamphlets, but as Cormac sprints into the Archway traffic, only one word rattles around his mind: “Bingo”.

Writer and performer Alan Flanagan
Director Dan Hutton
Producer SLAM
Associate Producer Rach Skyer
@SLAMKingsX, @ThePleasance, #BingoPlay

Pleasance Theatre
Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7 9EF

Author

  • Faye Stockley

    Faye read Theatre & Performance at The University of Warwick; she went on to work as a stage manager in London and Edinburgh. She had a year's stint on-board the MV Island Escape as a Social Host and Compere and now works full time as a Recruitment Manager for the broadcast, entertainment and media sectors.

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