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DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: Shame – Peacock, Dublin

Writer: Pom Boyd with Seán Millar

Director: Pom Boyd with Seán Millar

Reviewer: Ciarán Leinster

Shows in the Dublin Fringe Festival often throw up the question of what constitutes over-sharing on behalf of the performer. Not from an ethical point of view, as this issue has long since been resolved, but more from the dramaturgical point of view – in other words, how much of the personal life of the performer can be put on stage before it begins to negatively affect the piece? In Pom Boyd’s Shame, which is not without merit, we see what crossing this line looks like.

Boyd centres her show on the concept of shame, and how it has consistently stalked her through her life, from difficulties with her parents, and into her teenage years, her life as a performer, and as a mother. Her thesis is that shame is a negative emotion that stops people from fulfilling their potential. These missives are interspersed with live music from a rock band, plus cello, played on poor quality speakers. Along with the lights regularly being shone on the crowd, this makes the performance a physically uncomfortable experience.

The main problem is that Boyd doesn’t seem to have much of a thesis. She is an easy, likeable, charismatic performer, but her point is too easily summarised, and is never really expanded upon. Details from her past are certainly harrowing, and at times moving, but that is not enough to satisfy this reviewer. Far too much of this seemed to depend on whether one was personally invested in Boyd’s life and story, and at only 55 minutes, this time was not used sharply enough for that.

The fact also remains that in this kind of show, which pretends to be a confessional, public working out of an issue, the veil of performance is still very much up.  We don’t even then get to view a process of coming to terms with issues, but more the celebration of the end result of that process. Boyd’s charm and humour often delights, but without reasons to become strongly invested in her life story, this piece does not work.

Runs until 22 September 2018 | Image: Contributed

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