WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

Edinburgh review: Dublin Oldschool (Pleasance Theatre)

Emmet Kirwan's play is a railroading coming-of-age tale

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Emmet Kirwan and Ian Lloyd Anderson
© Ros Kavanagh

Emmet Kirwan's new play follows young DJ Jason as he zooms through a series of drug-fuelled nights and days in Dublin. He's delirious with a potent cocktail of ketamine, methadone, booze and anything else he can throw down his gullet. It's a fast-paced, railroading piece that paints a gnarly portrait of disenfranchised young people in a city that seems to be unravelling.

The writer also stars in this two-hander, which does away with any set and relies only on two tour de force performances. A bare stage is filled with Kirwan and his co-star Ian Lloyd Anderson; they screech, they shout, they sweat and they swagger their way through Kirwan's gut-punching text. The rapid-fire delivery in heavy Dublin accents takes a little time to get used to especially as Kirwan begins the play slap bang in the middle of Jason's raucous binge. He's heading from club to club and from house party to house party. Along the way he stumbles upon – among much else – a police drug raid, a man who sells his friends a batch of pre-prepared 'K' (ketamine) and a very messed up party or two (or four). Not to mention a run-in with his fairly angry boss.

Dublin Oldschool is bold and brash, but at times it is too much. It's when Jason bumps into his older brother – a homeless heroin addict back in Dublin after living in London – that everything slows a little. During these sections he sees his brother anew – now an adult – and the unspoken pain, guilt and love shows through the cracks in both men's world-beaten veneer. But either side of those moments the furious storming of Dublin becomes weary. There's poetry in Kirwan's script but the parties become repetitive and add little new to Jason's situation.

Still, Kirwan has a snappy and beautiful turn of phrase and when Jason spots himself – a ghostly mirror image in corners at parties - it is both a reflection of his state of mind, but also a troubling vision of his future. The piece is about a turning point in a young man's life; a fork in the self destructive path he's on. Dublin Oldschool is a smart, if flawed, coming-of-age tale.

Dublin Oldschool runs at Pleasance Courtyard at 1pm until 28 August.

For all our festival coverage, click here to head to our Edinburgh page