By now, the admirers and detractors of the work of Conor McPherson will have divided firmly into their separate groups. The author of such acclaimed pieces as St Nicholas and The Weir might be said to paint with words, not physicality, as most of his work seems to revolve around monologues of rare grandeur, but with little to offer the eye.
Shining City is no exception. In it, a Dublin analyst (Fintan McKeown) has just finished his training after leaving the priesthood under a cloud. John (Michael Glenn Murphy) becomes an early customer, and his tale of seeing the ghost of his wife, from whom he’d separated some time before her death, becomes a central enigma. But our shrink has issues of his own; having just left his wife (Melanie McHugh), and new born child, he begins to experiment with his sexuality, inviting home a rent boy (David Walshe).
Michael Emans’ production for Rapture explores the idea that we only ever see happiness in our lives in retrospect. In a material world (money is a recurring issue here) we are too constantly programmed to aspire to the next thing, without appreciating simple pleasures, being loved by someone else chief among them. Each character is debilitated by guilt at their last emotional move, and consequently paralysed in their present life. The action, as ever, is static, not helped by William Winter’s rather murky lighting, while Karen Tennent’s office/lounge room design is uninteresting, though the stage action, in fairness, does little to help her. What redeems it, though, is the language, which is particularly beautifully delivered, through the casual, lilting expletives of Murphy’s shattered sales rep, catching both humour and pathos in single phrases. This message from the emotionally bankrupt Celtic Tiger speaks to us anywhere in the West.