I saw Tadhg Hickey’s one man show in the Riverbank Arts Theatre in Newbridge this past Saturday.
As a massive fan of CCCahoots, there was no chance that I was missing a performance of Tadhg Hickey’s one-man show, ‘In One Eye, Out the Other’. I had the pleasure of seeing Dominic McHale and Laura O’Mahony, the other members of the comedy trio, in the raucously funny ‘Improvised Panto’ in the Opera House. I couldn’t miss out on seeing the man that brought ‘Partrick’ to our phone screens in the flesh. Hickey performed this performance with First Fortnight, First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action.
After watching Tadhg’s interview on the Six O’Clock show with Muireann and Martin, I knew we were in for an interesting performance. He spoke genuinely about his own troubles with drink, mentioning that there were some elements of truth to the events portrayed in his performance. I knew I would laugh. I knew it would probably get emotional. I knew it would stay with me after the end.
We are introduced to Feargal – a happy-go-unlucky alcoholic from the great city of Cork. His whole family were alcoholics and as any young fella growing up in such an environment would, he began to love the drink. He knows he is a bit of a ‘head-the-ball’ and acknowledges how he comes across to those in a more, shall we say, sober state. Yet he loves talking to somebody, anybody, to get away from the aching loneliness he faces everyday.
Feargal takes us on a fractured journey through his past, present and future. We meet a whole host of characters from pop culture and religious culture as well as some of Ireland’s feminine sporting heroes. Sonia O’Sullivan, St. Anthony and E.T. have the craic with Feargal in his house one night, while a love affair that will live through the ages with one Katie Taylor is as explosive as it sounds. If you just read that sentence and thought to yourself, “Fuck it, that sounds mad, like,” you’d be dead right. It is mad. It is mad and it is brilliant.
This hour long performance is self-deprecation at its finest. Well, it may border on horrifically insulting oneself but it is hilarious for the audience. Feargal may be a raging alcoholic but he is painfully self-aware. He talks about crying himself to sleep, and a new venture, crying himself awake. He knows that his upbringing by the world’s drunkest family did him no good but he is too scared to work on himself. His adventures with his imaginary friends are hilarious but almost sad to watch. We, the audience, and Feargal both know that he’s talking shite. But he’s funny, so he continues and we let him.
Despite being full of dark humour (the word ‘Auschwitzian’ is used in the opening monologue) there are chinks of light towards the end of the show. I won’t ruin the ending because it is profound and needs to be seen, but I will say that Tadhg Hickey’s voice is astounding. I have been scouring the internet trying to find the song he sings as part of the choir but alas, I have had no luck.
Feargal’s childlike sense of wonderment is infectious. The mastery of Hickey and the way he delivers the performance is that he and the audience both know it is a cheap mask over a mind numbed by alcohol. Feargal just wants to talk and chat and it is our duty to listen to this misfortune’s story.
I would highly recommend this show for absolutely everybody. The elderly man next to me gave a few chuckles but nothing else more throughout. I honestly didn’t think he was enjoying himself. However, towards the end of the play when poor Feargal shone a light into his real life, my neighbour held his breath, shocked by revelations he had not seen coming.
I spoke to Tadhg after the show and he spoke of how different audiences evoked different feelings from him. Depending on how the audience reacts to the opening segment, you could be in for a riotous night akin to a stand-up show, or, in my case, you may be sitting in a room where you could hear a pin drop. We were all rapt with attention.
As I am a fan of dark humour and uncomfortable jokes, I wanted so hard to guffaw and laugh out loud. I think the rest of the audience might have looked between me and Tadhg and wondered who was the man with the addled brain and who was the performer if I dared to react.
I am looking forward to seeing this show again with a more lively audience. I don’t think that the message of the show will cheapen with more laughs. If anything it will be more impactful, especially the last ten to fifteen minutes. The collboration between Hickey and First Fortnight is a special one, shining a light on a Cork star and the diverse ways our mental health can be affected.
They say ‘Never meet your heroes’, but I can say that I’m delighted my girlfriend made me go up to say hello because Tadhg Hickey is a fantastic performer and an absolute gent.