Friday 28 October 2016



To sing like Beniamino Gigli - that is the anonymous 'Irishman's' request.

Marching through the door of 'dynamatologist' JPW King's messy office, the Irishman is, in fact, a wealthy yet deeply troubled property developer who has decided that the only cure for his despair is to pay King to teach him to sing like his favourite Italian opera star. King is a quack; an Englishman posing as a self-help guru in Dublin.

A fraud, an alcoholic and a man lost in life and love, King is all over the shop, living in his workplace, surviving on a diet of bread, jam and vodka. Tom Murphy's brash yet alluring theatrical set-up certainly doesn't go out of its way to explain its actions, but 32 years after its stage debut, director David Grindley's brilliant new production reinstates The Gigli Concert as one of Ireland's greatest plays.

Basically, it's a week in the life of a depressed man and his equally depressed 'therapist', with the audience sitting in on a handful of boozy, musical sessions in which both of 'em occasionally lose the run of themselves.

Save for a striking cameo from King's mystery lover, Mona (Dawn Bradfield), this bizarre and sublime offering is very much a wayward two-hander in which language explodes, emotions soar high, and eloquent, heartbreaking monologues hit us in the gut.

The Irishman (an astonishing Denis Conway) and King (Declan Conlon in a career-best role) are more alike than they think.

It's quite funny, too - a smart and beautifully constructed comedy wrapped up inside a provocative and frequently eccentric piece on mental health and two men's search for a cure for life, it would seem.

Sparks fly between Conlon and Conway. Together, they are remarkable, exhausting every available emotion in this beautifully lit, well-directed drama. Together, they will eventually master the art of Gigli. If it sounds bonkers, that's because it is. The most memorable masterpieces usually are.

Running until June 27 HHHHI

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