Writer: Michael Collier
Director: Caroline Fitzgerald.
Reviewer: Cormac O’Brien
When Pauly and Jacko, two working-class Dublin men, wander into an overgrown field somewhere in Croatia, laden down with backpacks, fishing rods, and clad in waders and gaiters, the audience quickly realises that Michael Collier’s new play Click is going to be about manly men doing manly men things. That getting in touch with one’s emotions and being open about one’s true feelings, fears, and anxieties is NOT one of those manly things, is the crux of this play. Click’s one and only, and very crucial, real-time plot-point happens within the first minute of the drama when Pauly hears the eponymous click underfoot – and realises that he could be standing on an unexploded land-mine, and therefore cannot move for fear of it exploding. With Pauly thus rooted to the spot, the rest of the seventy-five minute play unfolds as he and Jacko are forced to dig deep into their life-long friendship, and confront some ugly truths about their history, while learning just how little they actually know each other.
The sins of the fathers, Ibsen reliably informed us over a century ago, are visited upon the sons – and this is certainly the case as Collier mines below the surface bravado of hetero-masculinity, revealing two men who, try as they might, seem to be repeating all the dysfunctional, controlling patriarchy of the fathers – something they tell each other that they never wanted to happen. What Collier’s superbly naturalistic dialogue lays bare, with a chilling reality that is quite frightening when you think about its implications for your own life, is just how much everyday ‘regular guy’ manhood is all about two things: Owning and controlling possessions and people, in this case wives and friends, and defining yourself by stating what you are not. Real men, as Ciarán Kenny (Pauly) and Aidan Crowe’s (Jacko) nuanced performances tell us, are not ‘queers’, are not controlled by women, and are not afraid of their Dads. Yet, as the hot Croatian day turns into freezing night, and the men lay bare their souls and harrowing truths must be told, the facade of hard-man masculinity falls away. It is only then that these two vulnerable people with fears and hopes and dreams, who have known and yet not really known each other for many, many years, can finally do that thing that real friends do – tell the other what he doesn’t want to hear in order to move towards a fuller understanding of himself.
Caroline FitzGerald’s subtle direction is most telling in the way she handles the casual misogyny and homophobia of everyday guy talk, we only realise it’s there when it’s suddenly not. Crowe’s sidekick-loser to the clever-winner is as heart breaking as it is funny, and when Mr Clever Guy finally plummets to the depths of his inner psyche, Kenny brings forth, in the penultimate scene, a performance of raw, intense, emotional depth. The drama plays out over six short, snappy scenes, and to be honest, it could have been five. We only get to the real heart of the matter in the fourth, and a bit less signposting and setting up in the first three would go a long way in future revisions. Nonetheless, Click is a most entertaining evening’s theatre that has much to say about the how Irish men see themselves, and how we see Irish men.
Photo courtesy of Viking Theatre. RunsuntilJune 21st.