Reviews EdinburghNationalReviews Published 28 August 2016

Review: Dublin Old School at Pleasance Courtyard

Pleasance Courtyard ⋄ Until 28th August 2016

Everything spoken word should be: Chris White reviews a performance by Emmet Kirwan and Ian Lloyd Anderson.

Chris White
Dublin Old School at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh.

Dublin Old School at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh.

A napalm explosion in the Southeast Asian jungle that is my fucking nose hair.

Above is just one of many bizarre and evocative expressions plucked from Dublin Oldschool; a daring, deeply felt, surprisingly funny show which melds together poetry, performance and rap. Emmet Kirwan does spoken word with a difference. A big fecking difference. Alongside Ian Lloyd Anderson, he’s telling the story of Jason, a club promoter with a ‘pseudo-job’ and DJ aspirations.

As we’re hurled through the streets, clubs and sessions of Dublin during one messy, drug-fuelled weekend, Kirwan and Anderson batter us with a barrage of beat-boxing, soliloquising and lyricisms. This is an epic, poetical Odyssey which tells a story of destruction, addiction and fate.

Jason is young (well, late twenties,) a little wayward and a dreamer. He does too much Ket, and wants nothing more than to DJ. Kirwan births this character out on to the stage – all youngish and naive – with believability, compassion and humour. He’s the kind of character you’re totally convinced of and one you know existed long before this long weekend began. The kind you fall a little bit in love with. The kind you’d follow to the ends of the earth – as indeed we do, and even further. It’s a stunning performance using an arsenal of language that makes the listener forget this is poetry, because the character is so complex and detailed – it would be breath-taking, except that you don’t have a moment to catch your breath.

Anderson is equally brilliant, convulsing and coursing between every other character in the piece, from the ferocious and very funny ‘Dave the Rave’ to Jason’s brother Daniel, who Jason encounters for the first time in years as an addict sleeping on the streets. Anderson is pushed to the limits in this performance, running alongside Kirwan, leaping from character to character he shows a tremendous amount of energy and control. Out of the torrent of cracked and comical characters comes the very real, downtrodden Daniel, who Anderson portrays gorgeously.

Both men synchronise effortlessly, leading the story along dark paths until it winds out into the outer stratosphere of big, universal ideas of life, death and destiny. And all the while crucial and current issues like drug use, homelessness and isolation are explored with a constant veracity. We’re taken deeply into this not-too-pleasant world that most of us won’t be familiar with. Our tour guides are Kirwan and Anderson, two pulsating, captivating modern-day beat poets who never miss a beat, and carve out the story with truthfulness and wit. In short: everything spoken word should be.


Chris White is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Dublin Old School at Pleasance Courtyard Show Info

Directed by Philip McMahon

Written by Emmet Kirwan

Cast includes Emmet Kirwan and Ian Lloyd Anderson


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