Life By The Throat, Edinburgh Festival Fringe ReviewWritten by Harry Mulligan
Make no mistake, due to the fact that she’s playing a fella of Irish Catholic stock from Manchester, her undeniable femaleness lends the performance an androgyny that is ‘movement’ astute and fluid. No gesticulation has not been measured, no nuance ill considered, switching readily from staccato to rhythmic and cadenced as she takes the audience through the life-span trajectory of James Joseph Patrick Keogh
Keogh’s is a story that might escape the mainstream. In the words of writer/director Ed Jones (Brookside, Holby City, The Bill):
‘People written off and labelled – are often the most fabulous, ingenious, funny and long suffering among us. That they are more than capable, given the right circumstances, of out-shining anyone. At the same time we didn’t want to shy away from the brutal realities lived out in the maelstrom of this forgotten world.
Delivered in the immediacy of the first person, Eve Steele tells us the story from the womb, through seventies infancy and First Communion to Rights of Passage and beyond, all the way to manhood
As the story develops, so do the means by which our protagonist changes his feelings of Catholic shame, low self-worth and even loathing and self-hatred. He’s discovered the distracting attributes of being a prolific thief, smoking, and eventually alcohol, then drugs, and the endgame where the addict’s drug of choice is plain and simply more! It’s an old story, but it’s the attention to detail that makes this monologue anything but a singular entity. Forays into crime sprees on foreign shores; Amsterdam and Bonn; jail sentences there and at home in HMP Strangeways provide the meat and potatoes of this tragic guy’s start in life, and the cultural incidentals such as the music and scene in Madchester, the Hacienda and Factory Records, the Rave stuff, the dancing, but end there it does not …
As is a trend at this year’s Festival in Edinburgh, with shows such as Doubting Thomas and Man Standing, the central plank of this story, bearing in mind that life imitates art, is the Greek notion of metanoia: having a change of heart! And it’s at this point that for the author, things get emotional. The minutiae of making amends for periods as an absent father due to being an addict, resonate in a way that has one squirming. By the time we’re approaching penultimate moments, it’s the most one can do to suppress great noisy, visceral, gut-wrenching sobs.
Life by the Throat is a Triumph of the Spirit story - joyous!
Five Stars *****
Underbelly, Cowgate, Venue 61, 2 PM Daily ( Buy Tickets Here)