IDGTF Review: ‘All I see is you’ and ‘Bingo’

I entered the grounds of Trinity College with trepidation. My destination was the Players’ Theatre.  My mission was to see ‘All I see is you’ by Kathrine Smith. My problem – well the Taoiseach had been to see this show the previous night; and one of the actors in the piece was an alumnus of the TV shows ‘Shameless’ and ‘The Bill’ – Ciaran Griffiths. I was unsure whether I’d be able to source a seat with my standby festival pass. This show seemed like a hot ticket. Thankfully as I was early to the party, I was granted entrance. I made a beeline for the front row.

‘All I see is you’ is the story of a love affair between two men in the era just before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967. Woolies employee Bobby (Griffiths) meets student teacher Ralph (Christian Edwards) in a cottage (a public lavatory used by gay men for furtive sexual encounters, which were widespread in that era). They travel back to Ralph’s house to further their carnal acquaintance, when they are interrupted by Ralph’s disgusted Dad. Love blossoms between the two men – despite the obstacles of the time – illegality, police harassment, the threat of blackmail, the near certainty of jail or loss of livelihood were they to be caught.

It is a deeply moving, yet harrowing account of a brutal time. A time when electric shock therapy (which is shown with chilling effect at one point) was a routine method of dealing with the ‘problem’ of homosexuality.

Performed with great skill and pathos by the two actors, who both give electrifying performances. Coupled with the 1960s soundtrack, it paints a vivid picture of a recent time (even more recent in Ireland which waited another quarter century to legalise).

Directed by Ben Occhipinti ‘All I see is you’ is a compelling play. Highly recommended.

Like a hot snot I dashed out of the theatre. My mission was clear. I wanted to be in the Pearse Centre to catch the 9pm performance of ‘Bingo’ – a one man show written by and starring Alan Flanagan. This play tells the story of Cormac – an Irishman living in London whose doctor utters the word ‘Bingo’ as she gives him his diagnosis of a full house of STIs – HIV; hepatitis; syphilis; gonorrhea; chlamydia and HPV.

The play navigates how Cormac processes the news, while giving us a background into his early life, his relationship with his family and work colleagues, his sex-life, and how he navigates his new medical reality.

It’s a funny and engaging show. Flanagan has a warm and entertaining stage presence. The details of Cormac’s new are told with skill and humour, never sinking into kitchen-sink drudgery as could have happened. He also knows how to pull at the heartstrings when needed. And the tale is told to the backdrop of the Amy Adams’ Nova-Scotia-set Netflix crime series ‘Porcelain’. I don’t suffer from Netflix so I am not sure whether this TV show actually exists. If it doesn’t then it ought to.

Directed by Dan Hutton, ‘Bingo’ is another show I’d encourage you to see.

‘All I see is you’ runs in Players’ until Saturday. ‘Bingo’ runs in the Pearse Centre until the same day.

Go see both.

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