It was great to see a new Irish play, Bondi Beach Boy Blue by Ballinrobe author Benny McDonnell at Wexford Opera House as part of a national tour organised by Richard Ryan Promotions.
A cast of four without set, just a few steps and a box create a very traditional tale with some snappy dialogue and some modern references about Declan, a young Kilkenny hurler of some promise who is boosted up by the need for local heroes and the GAA feeds and nurtures that primitive need at basic community level. Clearly people need these tangible heroes and they boost and boast average achievements into legendary pub talk. They bask in such hero talk.
Into that mix you get to meet the hanger-on/best friend, Gary, who feeds the dreams and seems wiser than his age. While this may seem stereotypical, it is the strength of McDonnell’s writing that his play transcends this. You also get the tough love father who drives the son on with withering advice – If you’re going to be a bollocks be a bollocks. Then you have a variation on the young girl who believes she can change Declan and shape him into her ideal mate.
By the end of Act One, Declan’s career is in tatters due to knee injury and he sets off with Gary to Australia in his Kilkenny jersey, runs in a pub marathon, is photographed with some Aboriginal runner and the photo appears in a Kilkenny paper and there is crazy hero talk about Declan running in the Olympics. So we are back to local heroes and people’s inability to tell the hard truth – shure, what harm is there in it.
Music for the play is by The Guggenheim Grotto. Paul Connaughton is excellent as Declan and Chris Gallagher adds much as Gary. Aoife Coughlan copes well with two roles as does Martin Maguire as Father/uncle.
The play carries well merited testimonials from Kilkenny hurling legends Brian Cody and Eddie Keher. Seek it out and enjoy a fine edition to Irish theatre.