It may be a one-man play that Phelim Drew has created, performed and lived for the last three years, but there was no doubt that bringing this Orwell adaptation back home, to the place he grew up, was going to be a challenge.
Whatever about enrapturing roomfuls of strangers from here to Galway, London and beyond, there’s nothing like an old childhood pal to serve up their honest opinion with plenty of mustard.
Phelim needn’t have worried, his take on George Orwell’s 1933 memoir Down And Out In Paris And London holding tonight’s audience at The Whale in rapt silence. No one spoke. No one checked their phone.
You could hear a pint drop.
Yep, the old sod returned to the oul’ sod and duly conquered. That many there hadn’t grown up with Phelim, but had come along purely because they wanted a night of pure theatre, in their own town, made this triumph of a night all the sweeter.
Just as Al Porter was able to have a packed house of Greystonians heaving with laughter last Saturday, tonight, Phelim was able to take this particular sell-out Whale audience through the dark, murky streets of poverty, perversion and perseverance with just a stage and his performance.
And it was touching to see so many members of the audience turn up in rags as a sign of solidarity with Orwell’s towering work.
It was the kind of night that, amidst all the congratulations and cheers afterwards, there was a quick handshake, and a return visit for Down And Out In Paris And London to The Whale on Thursday, October 19th was confirmed. Tickets will be on sale here from noon on Friday. Don’t miss it…
You can view – and download – the full range of shots from the night right here.