It was my absolute privilege of attending opening night, closing night, press night, second preview and first (possibly last) show of the, as yet unannounced, world tour of Columbia March.
The show has a bit of a (mock) false start, Eoin O’Sullivan, having welcomed us at the door, comes to the stage to make some announcements, including informing us that they are missing an actor, as he’s in the bar finishing his drink… then refuses to come. Loud shenanigans are heard backstage before O’Sullivan is roped into playing the role of Martin with costume (superb!) and all. This is before we even meet the main character of Ger (Joe Wright).
Ger is an Irish Republican and dedicated to the cause – even if the cause needs him to mop some floors, clean some toilets or stock some shelves. Surely his call-up to the front line is imminent? Columbia March mines a lot of humour here as Martin puts Ger to work, stringing him along, even inducting him into the IRA in a ceremony which brought tears of laughter.
From here things get a bit surreal, even a bit farcical, as Ger is sent on an essential mission to row a dinghy to Scotland and meet a man on a hill. No bother for Ger, he sets off but nothing quite goes to plan. We meet Cyril in the show’s stand-out performance by – well I’ll let you find out who plays Cyril for yourselves – and we meet Cocaine Seagull (the play title perhaps making a bit more sense now eh?) played with gusto by O’Sullivan. To tell you any more about this journey would do a disservice to Columbia March as it simply must be experienced. And I haven’t even mentioned the love story.
Wright and O’Sullivan put in superb performances, both committed and engaged and in a sweltering Etcetera Theatre give it their all. The tone for the show is set, dry deprecating Irish humour nicely summed up in the opening with the suggestion ‘the writing is Irish.. and poor’. The writing, also by Wright, is indeed Irish but it is far, far from poor. To borrow my favourite gag from the show, the writing and the entire night were red lemonade – “f*cking magical”.
Written by: Joe Wright
Produced by: WrightHere
Columbia March has completed its run at Camden Fringe.