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The Road to Joe

Aug 23, 2023Aug 23, 2023

Writer: Carmel Winters

Director: Rex Ryan

In the congenial surrounds of Bestseller Café at 41, Dawson Street, Glass Mask Theatre treat us to a first-rate production of Carmel Winter’s ‘The Road to Joe’.

In a master-class of acting, Cillian O’Gairbhi assumes, and transitions between, multiple roles with disparate accents, skilfully and seamlessly. He is predominantly twins, Joseph and Patrick Aherne. Curtains open upon Joseph, an immensely likeable, vulnerable adult, boogying hilariously to Joe Dolan in the living room of the Island home he shares with his ‘Mammy’. They have tickets for the singers’ show that evening to celebrate Joseph’s 40th birthday but ‘Mammy’ won’t wake up – “that isn’t the face of a good lookin’ woman”.

Joseph facetimes Patrick in ‘silicone alley’ to wish him a happy birthday. This method of communication between the brothers is a clever strategy on Winter’s part and is integral to how the play is formulated. In California, Patrick is sleepy and irritable – “How’s life in the backwaters? Who’s dead now?” His partner, Raheem, tries to soften the frustration in Patrick’s exchanges with Joseph. Patrick appears to embody the great American success story (“your bro’ is on the Forbes list”) but time will tell as to which of the brother’s lives ultimately brings fulfilment.

If there is a formula to writing good drama then Winters is a venerable mathematician. ‘The Road to Joe’ gives us, among other things, an unforgettable character in Joseph, laugh out loud dialogue and humour, genuine pathos and dramatic tension. It’s a good story, well told. If the running length was just slightly shorter, it might further tighten up and fine-tune the piece.

Rex Ryan has connected all of the moving parts to this show commendably. His acuity of vision extends not just to the performance but to the theatre itself. Together with his wife, Migle, they have created a beautiful and immersive space which feels more like a theatrical experience than just a show.

Go and see this play. Bring a friend. Sit on one of the banquettes. Order some delicious antipasti and maybe a glass of wine or two. You’ll only ever regret the things you didn’t do.

Runs Until 16th September 2023.

Writer: Carmel WintersDirector: Rex RyanRuns Until 16th September 2023.