Wednesday, March 07, 2007

REVIEW: Trousers (Andrews Lane Theatre, Dublin)

I wonder if you called a play Skirts, would you have the theatre stuffed with men? (Evidence from The Vagina Monologues would suggest to the contrary.) But giving tonight's show the title Trousers has certainly had the effect of filling the house with (at a rough calculation) an 85% female audience. Was there a ticket giveaway on the Orla Barry show? Or are these women really that curious about Paul Meade and David Parnell's latest meditation on the inner workings of male relationships?

Because it is not a pretty picture, in any sense of the phrase. Portly Mick (Gerry McCann) has turned up on the doorstep of his old mucker, long-steak of misery, Dermot (Tom Murphy (2)). Back in their college days, the two shared an exuberant summer of waitering, dishwashing and drinking in Manhattan, but ever since, it seems, their friendship has been in decline.

Mick's waistline has expaneded in indirect proportion to his self-confidence, while Dermot has lately come to the startling realisation that he feels lonely, and probably clinically depressed. He's started taking the pills his doctor gave him, drinking herbal tea and attempting to move his empty mug by sheer positive thinking. The last thing he needs right now is exactly what life has to offer: Mick, an abusive houseguest with history and his own crisis to mange.

Trousers may have a poster than screams knock-about comedy, but the slapstick ends there. Meade and Parnell's play is a sincere, frequently glum and pessimistic look at friendship between two men, with all its co-dependency, subterfuge, face-saving and good old-fashioned lying. Moments of levity exist, but they serve mostly to remind us what a minute role laughter has in these two messy lives, each of which has attained sadness through its own, distinctive route. But then, the ladies already knew that all men aren't the same, didn't they?

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