You have to give credit to Covert Firmament: not content with providing one show to the Living Record Festival, they have instead gone all in with 17. Which is all well and good, but with so many shows listed, how on Earth do you decide what to watch? Having learned my lesson previously that sticking pins in the computer screen is not advisable, this time it’s a spot of lucky dip instead. Which brings me to A Coward in Love, a fifteen-minute monologue from the pen of Dan Horrigan.
The eponymous coward is Rob (Jamie Pigott) who, in his own words, is a ‘gypo’. And there is nothing to dissuade you of all the traveller stereotyping that is widespread, as he speaks of the family business of illegal activity. When he tells you he is into wine, it’s soon all too apparent it isn’t for drinking, but for smuggling. Pigott performs in a wonderfully thick Irish brogue, words rolling delightfully over his tongue, a little rough around the edges, but with such a calming lilt to them that it’s a pleasure to the ears. Especially when the words he speaks are so elegant: almost poetic. The sound of birds in the background, along with the scenic greenery on show, can only help enhance the relaxation he creates as you listen to his story. And the tale? It’s one of how he fell in love, and how love maybe took the edge off his criminal activities.
Two thirds of the way in to the story, the calmness and serenity that has been created is suddenly exploded in a matter of seconds, giving the piece its required edge. As Rob describes the fateful moments that dealt him a crushing blow, his soft tones become more venomous. There is a visible tightening of his jaw as he forces words out, coldly describing what he did in response to that setback.
Pigott does an incredible job of making Rob come over as a loveable rogue in such a short space of time. He both looks and sounds the part. The words he utters have a flow to them that is credit to Horrigan’s writing. In fact, you could almost imagine Rob reciting poetry: “Her name was May. but I met her in June. And I met her in Iceland, or was it the Co-op” could so easily be the opening lines of a humorous love poem. Or maybe from a first draft of Pulp’s ‘Common People’.
What is less loveable is the filming. It’s all done in close-up, which means your attention is fully on Pigott and his words; so far so good. However, there is a shakiness to the camerawork that is distracting. Whether it’s deliberate or not is hard to decide, but it is just something that seems unnecessary.
Camerawork aside, A Coward in Love is a welcome addition to the Living Record Festival, demonstrating fine writing and superb acting, both of which would be a pleasure to explore further should this piece develop beyond its current existence in this short.
Written and directed by: Dan Horrigan
Produced by: Covert Firmament
A Coward in Love is playing until 22 February as part of The Living Record Festival. Full details can be found at the below link.