Writer: Enda Walsh
Director: Kate Gaul
Reviewer: Chloe St George
By the time Laura Marling’s Devils Spoke rang out at the end of the performance, some audience members’ tears were in freefall. “All of this can be broken, hold your devil by his spoke and spin him to the ground.” So goes Marling’s verse, rather prophetic of Enda Walsh’s Misterman itself. When Thomas Magill, devout servant and right hand man of God, realises that the townsfolk of his native Inishfree are a bunch of corrupted sinners, it becomes his moral duty to correct them.
Islamic extremism is a hot topic at this year’s Fringe, and while Walsh’s play is not new, (and nor, for that matter, is Christian evangelism) it still feels somewhat original to explore the fate of a radicalised Christian. Yet Misterman could equally be a study in loneliness; Walsh’s script is busy, and peppered with many voices, whether in cassette tape recordings or in interactions with other villagers, yet Magill remains undoubtedly alone.
A domestic scene, unextraordinary but idiosyncratic, and intricately functional, makes up the set. No flying carpets nor grand revolves. But when a cup of tea is substituted for a Fanta bottle, it is perhaps more consequential, more unnerving than words could express. Alarming flickers like these are what give the show a thriller-like quality. As such, though Misterman may be considered a slow burner, a grand finale is always looming. As Thomas tells us himself, “that’s the thing with time…wait around long enough and something’s bound to happen.”
Thomas Campbell is genuinely arresting as Thomas Magill. He has the power to make an audience sympathise with something that is not there, while taking pity on those whose most depraved moments we have witnessed first-hand. His movements are purposeful, and Magill feels powerful, yet not in control, bringing a certain grace to an ungainly character, and contorting himself around other contradictions. He can makes the Bible sound at once soothing and threatening. Walsh, Campbell, and director Kate Gaul, form a team that is able to simultaneously shatter tensions and prolong them, like a perpetrator sitting down to eat a sandwich in the middle of a bank robbery. In short, utterly captivating.
Runs until 28th August | Image: Contributed