O Go My Man

Stella Feehily
An Out of Joint production directed by Max Stafford-Clarke
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, and touring

Production photo

There was a time when sex was a dirty word – anything remotely near the genital regions was referred to euphemistically as ‘down there’. Now, in a modern world, the pendulum has swung completely in the opposite direction and we must swing with it – those of us who have anything left to swing! Perhaps there should be the warning “This show contains strong language from the start, and you may find some scenes offensive”. Certainly there is swearing, and the sex scenes are graphically depicted, but there is plenty of comedy too. A man with trousers round his ankles and a handful of “spunk” may be cringe-making, but when the doorbell rings and he wonders what to do with it the situation becomes comical and had many male members of the audience in appreciative and sympathetic laughter.

Having got that out of the way (in a manner of speaking) – well, you have been warned - the play is well worth seeing, very perceptive, well researched (not necessarily the sexual content – although what do I know!) and with many pertinent observations. .This is Stella Feehily‘s second offering following the very successful Duck which dealt with the problems of teenagers, and here almost every facet of modern life is touched upon – marriage break-ups, effect on children, the atrocities committed in war torn countries, politics, the obsession with celebrities and their hounding by the press when they discover something sleazy to report. In fact the story goes off in so many different directions I feel that there are several plays here all crying for attention.

O Go My Man is a very apt anagram for monogamy – certainly not practised by the characters in this play as they switch from one sexual partner to another simply to try something new in their search for that elusive lasting love, and how long will the new love last? Is there a moral to the story? I think you have to weigh the evidence and make up your own mind!

Splendid performances by all concerned, especially war correspondent and photographer Neil (Ewan Stewart) and his actress girl friend Sarah (Susan Lynch) who appears in various stages of dress and undress – including the costume of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland – a comment perhaps on the state of our topsy-turvy upside-down world.

It is set in Dublin, a city which has been used to emigration, and is now coming to terms with the immigration of vast numbers of Eastern Europeans, and here they are all personified by one person, the magical Alice, (Mossie Smith) who appears as a waitress, a chambermaid, a bag lady, a patient in hospital, and a cleaner. At every appearance she has some relevant and caustic comment to make about the goings on, and she manages to comically steal every scene.

Es Devlin’s set too is interesting – plywood, minimalist and bare, suggesting impermanence and at the flick of a panel or shutter it becomes a living room, airport lounge, park, hotel room or art gallery – extremely clever construction.

A story told by one of the actors is of a little old lady in Ireland who commented “This is the filthiest play I have ever seen”, but it was added “that doesn’t necessarily mean that she didn’t enjoy it!” – and that is the essence of the play – shocking, fascinating, intriguing, amusing and thought-provoking. Almost – you might say – something for everyone!

The tour finishes next week in Bolton.

This review first appeared in Theatreworld Internet Magazine

Philip Fisher reviewed this production at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs

Reviewer: Sheila Connor

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