To say that Bewley’s Cafe Theatre is intimate would be an understatement. And yet, this small space is a wonderful venue for Peter Sheridan’s one man show, based on his own memoirs of the same name. Only a bench and a street light on the small stage is needed to give a sense of place, the rest is up to the performer.
While Peter is the only actor on stage, through his performance many others are brought to life. Right from the start he is watching his granddaughter on the trampoline, so the past re-emerges from questions she poses and he starts answering. In a way, he is telling his story to her, and not to us. And it is this story, made up of friends, family, people he encounters and works with, that captivates, told with wit and humour, as he moves from growing up in inner-city Dublin and being part of a drama group at a young age, to working in theatre with his brother, before embarking on community theatre work that embraced the people, history and stories of inner city Dublin.
With a lot of arts cuts on the cards these days and debates on the meaning of art in society, this show, and Sheridan’s work, really highlights how theatre, drama and the arts can be a part of all society and the people who inhabit it. Thankfully the show isn’t preachy in any shape or form, but through the unfolding of Sheridan’s life and times in the theatre, we see how it all intertwines, and does so for the better. And even in this way, the subtle touch, the simple telling of a story, shows how much the arts is a fabric of our lives, and how it can affect and help us, as well as the role politics can play in it.
Sheridan’s performance and writing, along with Maggie Byrne’s direction, will make you forget that you are sitting in a theatre as the world of his past is vividly, and evocatively, brought to life. It is a pity that music does sift through from the outside, at times breaking into the mood so wonderfully created. If you have time, arrive a little early and you can avail of the lunch before the performance, and treat yourself to a wonderful play. You won’t be disappointed.