Writer: Fionntán Larney
Director: Joy Nesbitt
It’s not often that you’re left hoping that the end of an 80 minute one hander is not actually the end, but endings. leaves the audience wanting more and more and more. It’s a spectacular performance from start to finish, with sharp writing, gut wrenching emotion, plenty of laugh out loud moments, several fantastically catchy songs, and some very smart use of audience participation.
Played by Fionntán Larney, Henry is a bit of a wreck. Dealing with the death of his mother, his strained relationship with his father, his unhappiness in his job, his pulling away from his friends, and his lack of creative direction, he is entirely relatable but vaguely unlikable. Larney takes on a second role early on in the piece, which should be confusing but is remarkably simple to follow thanks to a voice modulator that keeps the two characters recognisably separate. The play explores Henry’s descent into darkness over the course of several weeks.
Although Larney is the only person on the stage it feels full throughout the show. The use of recorded voices playing the other people in Henry’s life is perfect, not only does it ramp up the feeling that this could all be some sort of feverish nightmare, it also keeps the focus solely on Henry as he spirals further and further into himself and away from the relationships and people who care about him. The second character appears early on, Henry meets him in a bedroom in a raucous house party, perhaps he is summoned by the people playing with a Ouija board in one of the rooms, or perhaps Henry has found himself in the depths of hell without realising it, it’s hard to say. But what a character he is. Larney imbues the role with a playful malice that is absolute perfection, he is charming and evil and completely distinct from Henry, it’s a masterful performance.
The stage, sound, and lighting are really put to great use in this piece; it’s such a simple set, with two mics and stands the only props, but with the lighting and sound the audience is transported to various different spots, various different moods, and yet always in the dark of Henry’s mind. Credit to Hannah O’Leary as the stage manager, Freya Gillespie on set and costume, and Pedro Pacheco on lighting design. The music is another string in the bow of this show, Morgan Beausang and Ethan Forbes-Roe have composed some excellent pieces that are both proper earworms and also add to the atmosphere in clever and conscious ways. This is wonderfully creative show on all levels, with a talented team behind it.
The underlying story of a son who has lost his mother, who blames his father, who feels stuck in a life that he feels completely disconnected from is very real and very touching, and Larney’s performance of these emotions is raw in the best way possible. As Henry finally explodes with grief and rage at his father the silence in the theatre is complete. An incredibly smart piece from Springheel Productions and an incredibly talented writer and actor. Larney is without a doubt one to watch. Not a single moment is wasted in this show and you shouldn’t waste a moment in booking a ticket before this run finishes.
Runs until 16th September 2023.