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Review: Narcissus, Chiswick Playhouse

Pub theatres are always a favourite of mine. Nothing beats a cold winters evening spent sipping cider in a pub then topping it off with a play. It’s just the cure for the January blues. Chiswick Playhouse sits above the Tabard Pub, which is filled with friendly staff and delicious food; I can highly recommend starting your evening in this wonderfully cosy pub before heading upstairs to the theatre. Narcissus is a monologue from Irish theatre company tasteinyourmouth. Tonight was their first international performance. so you have to applaud their bravery for launching a show in the current climate.…

Summary

Rating

Good

A beautifully written and performed monologue shining a light on the frivolous and precarious nature of youth.

User Rating: 4.75 ( 1 votes)

Pub theatres are always a favourite of mine. Nothing beats a cold winters evening spent sipping cider in a pub then topping it off with a play. It’s just the cure for the January blues. Chiswick Playhouse sits above the Tabard Pub, which is filled with friendly staff and delicious food; I can highly recommend starting your evening in this wonderfully cosy pub before heading upstairs to the theatre.

Narcissus is a monologue from Irish theatre company tasteinyourmouth. Tonight was their first international performance. so you have to applaud their bravery for launching a show in the current climate. The show begins with writer and performer William J Dunleavy sitting on the stage, with Grace Jones’ iconic I Feel Love pounding off the walls, making slow eye contact with each member of the audience. This is an intimate way to begin a show that doesn’t hold back. In the hour that follows, nothing is left to the imagination in the poetic and revealing monologue.

The show is an indulgent sharing of an anecdote about a night out among three young men, who are beautiful and very aware of their young beauty. As with Narcissus and his reflection, it seems that any mirrored surface provides an opportunity for the men to check themselves out. They’re at that age where it seems nothing can stop them; they’re taking drugs and having unprotected sex, seemingly unaware or dismissive of possible consequences. Even when our narrator vomits, he then comments on how he looks alright despite the vomiting. Everything is trivial and superficial in their world.

The writing is truly beautiful with witty observations throughout that have members of the audience sniggering in recognition. Alongside them though are moments of intense discomfort, a voiceover takes over the narration from time to time and William will start downing drinks or eating a takeaway at such lightning speed that much of it ends up all over his shirt and the stage. Not particularly pleasant to watch!

While the monologue does have highs and lows, it seems to miss the mark slightly in its final moments, the ending coming as a surprise. I was expecting a climax, perhaps the consequences of their actions coming back to haunt them. In fact, they seem to just get away with it. I guess that’s what happens when you’re young. But as an audience member, it did feel like there was something missing.

Nevertheless, Dunleavy is a wonderful storyteller. From that initial eye contact to the final moments of the play he has the audience on his side. It’s like sitting across from a particularly engaging friend in the pub, telling stories from a wild night out.

Written by: William J. Dunleavy
Directed by: Grace Morgan and Laoise Murray
Produced by: tasteinyourmouth

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About Lily Middleton

Lily currently works for a gardening magazine, so spends her days writing about plants. When not stretching her green fingers, she can be found in a theatre or obsessively crafting. Her love of theatre began with musicals as a child, Starlight Express at the Apollo Victoria being her earliest memory of being completely entranced. She studied music at university and during this time worked on a few shows in the pit with her violin, notably Love Story (which made her cry more and more with each performance) and Calamity Jane (where the gunshot effects never failed to make her jump). But it was when working at Battersea Arts Centre at the start of her career that her eyes were opened to the breadth of theatre and the impact it can have. This solidified a life-long love of theatre, whether in the back of a pub, a disused warehouse or in the heart of the West End.