Fight Night at Bewley’s Café Theatre

Fight Club is a one-man show about boxing. I’m not really into boxing – I’ve never watched Rocky or Million Dollar Baby and if this wasn’t a one-man and there was even the slightest possibility that I would have had to watch boxing on stage, I probably wouldn’t have gone. As it is, I’m really glad I did go and see it because it’s a really wonderful play that’s about a lot more than boxing. It’s about growing up and figuring out who you are and why you are that person.

It was developed as part of last year’s Show in a Bag and did very well at the Fringe Awards, winning Best Actor and the Bewley’s Little Gem award, both very much deserved. Aonghus Og McAnally gives a fantastic performance as the ex-boxer and new dad Dan Jr. It’s an amazingly physical performance, and the real out-of-breath sweatiness of the actor makes the emotions and struggles feel equally real. Dan Jr. is a man who is trying to be all things to all people – his girlfriend, his baby son, his estranged father. It not quite mid-life crisis territory but it’s not too far away! It’s a wonderful story, beautifully told and more than a little bit heart-breaking.

I’ve always found Bewleys Café Theatre to be a disconcerting place to see a play. I’ve seen a few shows there and because it’s a very small space and it’s very packed with tables and chairs, it’s always difficult forgot that you’re in a tiny café above Grafton Street. This show (which was written to be performed in Bewleys) uses that to it’s advantage. Dan is telling his story directly to the audience and the close, claustrophobic feel adds to the tension of the play. The pace of the play never sags – it is very well-written.

A few weeks before I saw the play, I went to a pre-application discussion for Show in a Bag 2011 where Aonghus talked about his Show in a Bag experience. He was really enthusiastic about the whole process. The collaboration between himself and the playwright Gavin Kostick seemed like a true collaboration – something that wouldn’t have existed without both people’s contributions.

It’s finished for the moment but it was built to be a touring show so I’m sure it will on again soon. Follow @RiseProdsIrl to find out when and where.

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