Writer: John Doran
Music: Moses Moorhouse
Director: John Morton
Reviewer: Sophie Everton Ryan
Turn on your imagination. That is all John Doran, writer and sole performer of The Centre of the Universe, asks of his audience in this show. Here Doran attempts to sway the audience to join his cult and as such something that would normally raise red flags, actually sounds appealing if not considerable by the end of the performance. Doran charts his journey from a lost twenty-five year old to a self-assured, loveable rogue through a deliberate change of perspective and the application of “Jolly Goggles” to obstruct the loneliness and confusion that has plagued anyone struggling to find a direction in life.
Doran’s performance is the main focus onstage and so the minimalistic set containing a single chair and pieces of paper with statements, such as “Devotion” and “How To Feel/Behave”, lining the back wall work to enhance rather than overpower Doran’s movements. Doran himself needs little else to captivate the audience into his imaginings. The music, selected by Moses Moorhouse, was upbeat and accompanied the audience as theywaited in the intimate setting of Bewley’s Café Theatre. Wisely, the production itself does not feature any music to complicate Doran’s showmanship. The only small hitch that this reviewer could find was the lighting in the performance. For the majority of the hour the spotlight, designed by Colm Maher and Maggie Donovan, served its purpose favorably. However, at times, there seemed to be a small delay between changes in the intensity of the lighting and Doran’s own gestures, but this is nothing that can’t be fixed with a few more shows.
Doran radiates boyish enthusiasm; charming the audience from the beginning as he states that for the next hour they are all his best friends, and boy do the audience believe him. Directed by John Morton, Doran successfully works the space as Morton shapes the audience’s gaze to follow Doran’s abundant energy with rapt attention throughout. Doran seamlessly glides from character to character with on point personations that genuinely make you laugh aloud. We follow him to an interview where we squirm alongside Doran as he struggles to answer the tough questions of “who are you?” and “what do you want to be?”, culminating, as the audience witnesses a night from hell for Doran, in something everyone in the audience has surely experienced. The show is quick to contrast these events with Doran’s explanation of his cult, achieved through a simple change in perspective as the show runs through previous situations. This time around, however, the audience is guided by a new and self assured Doran who has become the centre of his own universe as he attempts to teach the audience the methods he has used to become who he want to be in life. He encourages the audience to employ tactics that will enable the audience to ignore the negative aspects that plague most of us.
Doran ends the show with an email address and the statement to get in touch and one can’t help but hope that he, in fact, waits for our emails and this was not just an hour long bracketed performance but, instead, a possible way of life.
Photo by Sally-Anne Kelly. Runs until September 20th.