Cillian Murphy soars in MistermanJuly 15, 2011 - 7:00am
To describe Cillian Murphy as amazing in Enda Walsh’s one-man show Misterman barely begins to do justice to the actor’s performance.
Misterman is a strange piece of work – its 90 minutes has moments that are comic, tragic and plain mad, with language that is frequently biblical in scale. It’s also very physical and beautifully lit and scored.
The city’s Black Box has been transformed into a warehouse space for the show, in which Murphy as Thomas Magill is recreating scenes from his past as he tries to stop his world from falling apart.
It’s apparent very quickly, despite the quick-fire comedy of the early moments, that he is not a well man and that there will be no happy ending.
Thomas sees himself as a modern day Messiah, in league with God, whose mission in life is to save the inhabitants of the midland town of Innishfree from their sins. The only problem is they don’t want to be saved. They also don’t realise quite how mad he is and that mistake is fatal.
Thomas lives with his mother, who has a penchant for Jammie Dodger biscuits, and their cat, whose kittens he has recently drowned for what he regards as humanitarian reasons. His father, who owned the local shop, has died recently and Thomas feels the loss greatly.
At first he seems pretty harmless, but as he recreates conversations he has with his neighbours, you realise he is a zealot.
He impersonates many of his neighbours, effortlessly skipping from one character to another. His recreation of the local vamp, Mrs Cleary is great and evokes memories of Breakfast on Pluto.
Cillian Murphy’s physicality and his intensity as he moves through the events that have brought him to this warehouse are amazing. There are moments when he barely moves, moments when he can’t stand still and at one point when he is cowering during a beating from an irate neighbour, it’s difficult to believe that he is the only person on stage. That’s not the only moment when you believe that there’s a host of villagers alongside him. He finds ‘an angel’ Edel – voiced by Alice Sykes – with whom he falls in love and dreams of their bright new future. His language becomes highly poetic and as he tells her of the Eden he is planning, and asks if he can hold her hand, you can sense her presence.
In addition to his impersonations, Thomas recreates ‘conversations’ with his mother and his neighbours, courtesy of a series of reel to reel tape recordings he has made of them.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.