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TWENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER ITS DEBUT, THIS REVIVAL IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS

The 'Gotchie', as he is called, is on his last shift. After 35 years of being a night watchman, overlooking Wood Quay where the Vikings settled, he is to hang up his flask and cap. Just as well - the bloke is far from happy about these new Dublin Corporation offices going up.

The watchman says he'd never before witnessed a grown man shedding tears over the removal of rubble, but from his tiny post (complete with a hut, a tin of Brasso, a fire and some leaves), we suspect that he has seen quite a bit.

Sean Lawlor's one-man show, originally performed at the Peacock Theatre in 1988, has been revived for another small run of intimate performances - its surprisingly short running time (approximately 35 minutes) creating a sense that what we have before us is but an abridged version of this so-called lost theatrical gem. A teaser trailer, perhaps, for the real deal. Nope, this is the full thing. Then why does it feel so… incomplete?

Gotchie reminisces. He speaks of a Dublin long since changed, but one that its citizens should continue to treat as an extension of their living room. Nice line. Ronan Wilmot's understated performance isn't that of a grouchy old-timer. Instead, Wilmot gives us a warm, educated and humorous protagonist. The storytelling is pleasant, too (though we can't blame the actor for the confusing timelines and wishy-washy characters).

FEARFUL

Our watchman didn't always dress like a cartoon burglar. He was once a messenger boy, delivering coffee gateaux to those with heavier pockets. He lived in London. He fell in love with a girl called Annie. Wilmot hangs his head at the thoughts of her passing, and bounces excitedly when remembering his first fearful night on the job. He also gives us a verse from The Rose of Tralee.

The point in all of this is unclear. Is The Watchman a love letter to Dublin? A romantic history lesson, perhaps? We don't know. But there is no real depth or scope to tie its many anecdotes and memories together; no real dramatic urgency or emotional weight. Could we have another 20 minutes please?

It's an admirable attempt, conjuring up splendid imagery with language, but where's the hook? Alas, even after 26 years, this wandering monologue feels like a work in progress.

Running until November 22

HHIII


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