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Pilgrim (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh)

'As often in small-scale solo shows, the writing's better than the theatre of it all'

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
'A regular charmer': Rex Ryan

Christy's a pilgrim and his pilgrim's his penis, a typically Irish Catholic blasphemous conceit - Jesus, Mary and Joseph, not another one - that fuels this journey from hedonistic irresponsibility to domestic stability, and fatherhood, possibly, in Dublin.

Philip Doherty's smart little play, winningly performed by Rex Ryan (son of the late legendary RTE radio host, Gerry Ryan), is unusual in not being formed by psychological twists or politically correct turns. Real stuff happens.

Christy has been hanging loose, and louche, in California for five months. He learns that his Dublin girlfriend Penny is pregnant and sets off to face a new relationship, and responsibility, by flying home from San Diego.

Unluckily, but also luckily, for him, it's the Twin Towers date of 9/11 and he's grounded in Newfoundland, spending a few days in the fishing community of Gambo as one of the "plane people."

It's an odd, life-changing environment with a drunken dance house-cum-brothel, over-generous hospitality and an eccentric shower man whose clothes - ripped shirt and dungarees - Christy adopts and inhabits; he's on the cusp of going native, and appreciates his own cultural identity in increasingly sarcastic apostrophes.

As often in small-scale solo shows, the writing's better than the theatre of it all, despite Ryan's athletic, body-bending dance movements; Aoife Spillane-Hinks is the director for Gonzo Theatre Company. And, like most people (I mean, of course, critics), in Edinburgh this year I've reached breaking point with solo shows and black drapes. But I like Kate Moylan's art work design of piled-high, painted luggage and baggage in front of the drapes, and Ryan's a regular charmer.

Pilgrim continues at Pleasance Courtyard until 31 August

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