Last night I went to see ‘Straight to video’ by Emmett Kirwan at the Upstairs Space in the Project Arts Centre – my first trip to this theatre since ‘Well that’s what I heard’ in the Downstairs Cube in December 2019. I was looking forward to it. Emmett Kirwan’s last play ‘Dublin Old School’ was excellent and was adapted into an impressive film. I’d last seen him perform in ‘Riot’. That was a collaborative piece however. This was entirely his script.
Set in the 1990s the play is about the staff in a rundown video shop named ‘Video Venture’ in Tallaght. Owner Barry (Emmett Kirwan) has installed a sunbed in the corner to try to diversify his business (he’s been losing trade to the ‘video van man’ who has been renting illegal videos from the back of a van). Barry lives in the walk-in safe in the shop, after his wife threw him out for engaging in a sordid sex act with a hairdresser to whom he was not bound in holy matrimony. Shop assistant Carl (Colin Campbell) is bored with his life – a semi-closeted gay guy who lives with his gangster brothers – dreams of a new life. His best friend is fellow shop worker Claire (Kate Gilmore) who is caring for her ill mother while her feckless brothers idle about.
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