Clinging to a steep housetop, high above the flashes and sirens of police cars, Mikey and Casey seem out of sight. Their robbery of a petrol station led to a predictable chase. Immensely chuffed with their escape, the characters of John O’Donovan’s seeking comedy could be plucked straight from a waggish caper.
That’s not to suggest there’s little more than frolics from director Tom Martin’s vigorous production for One Duck and Project Arts Centre. Soon into their seclusion, the experienced Mikey (charming and criminal in the shape of Alan Mahon) encourages Casey (an intriguingly reticent Josh Williams) to take the fall because he’s a minor. But just as a battle of wits seems underway, Mikey recalls some ‘magazines’ he lent his partner, now crinkled with use.
‘It was like browsing the layers of a vol-au-vent,’ he remarks, in a line artfully evoking pornography. It turns out there’s not only honour among thieves. There’s love.
In this surprisingly affectionate production, ascents and descents across Georgia de Grey’s sloping rooftop set trace the ups and downs of a heated romance. Bound within this portrayal of forbidden love are other transgressions against traditional rural Ireland. Mikey refuses to leave their town and move to Dublin, as other gay men tend to do. Casey is a black man transplanted from Croydon. It’s no wonder that even when a police car drives off and the coast is clear, they’re in no rush to leave their sanctuary. (‘We’re safe here a little while,’ says Casey).
We’re allowed to imagine, if only briefly, that both these outsiders might find the escape they need in the form of each other. But it’s heartrendingly truthful of O’Donovan’s script to let bigger forces shape their fates. Opportunities are either drained by the Recession or withheld by oppressive grown-ups and ex-boyfriends. Casey’s cover-up of his homosexuality, involving a phoney relationship with a woman, now threatens to imprison him for the rest of his days. Our heroes are unlikely to walk into the sunset anytime soon.
But you will be knocked sideways by an unthinkable sacrifice towards the end. It’s an appropriate final brushstroke to a delicate picture, one of bruised hearts out in the open, in elegant starlight under Derek Andersen’s lighting. Even more, O’Donovan has brought the heartbroken gay men of rural Ireland to the stage. From where I’m sitting, new ground appears to be broken.
If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You is on until 3 February 2018 at Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Click here for more details.