Fishamble smartly produced Kinevane's one-man theater triumph titled Silent, which is a delightfully macabre tale about a uniquely resourceful and loquacious homeless bloke-in-mourning named Tino McGoldrig. In the play, Dublin's unforgiving streets are the perfect backdrop for Kinevane's dismally expressionistic style.
A Tale of Two Tinos
Tino McGoldrig used to be a "normal," law-abiding citizen until he surrendered to beleaguering memories from his past and lost everything—including a secure family life. Ever since then, he has perpetually saluted his sorrows with the liquor bottle, which is one of the few things giving him any modicum of peace.
McGoldrig manages to communicate with others better as a self-proclaimed hobo than he did as the husband and father who relied on less destructive means to avoid the emotional noise of his past. When McGoldrig was a child his mother was unapologetically emasculating, and her smothering essence continues to haunt his adult psyche. His younger brother Pierce trod a dreary life's path and lacked the mental fortitude to endure the torment that McGoldrig is able to withstand to some extent, or so it seems. McGoldrig communicates to his audience the degree to which he is affected, in sum, through several clever techniques.
His Means Are Justified
Homelessness affords McGoldrig license to mock societal notions of decency, which is a line that few "normal" folks dare cross. But alas, the homeless McGoldrig does not fear to lose anything, since he has already lost all. He has our undivided attention (as he insists), and we learn to do what the hobo has not done, and avoid what he has in life. Accordingly, a captivated audience laps up every line that drips from McGoldrig's saucy lips.
He singles out anxious audience members at various moments of his storytelling, calling them by name, which oft proves that people prefer to remain nameless and invisible. In contrast, McGoldrig subtly offers that he and those who are like him are always exposed, although "normal" people pass over their existence to avoid the hobo noise that sounds eerily similar to the noise in their own lives.
While most preachers pontificate about the hereafter, McGoldrig vehemently preaches at his fleeting congregations about personal tragic days of yore. He weaves together the shredded rags of his past, and flamboyantly wears his creation like a ghostly cloak amid bleak surroundings that chiefly consist of smoke, haze and gloom. McGoldrig's traumatic memory spells yield impeccable hindsight, and he sheds fresh tragic tears for every regret and lost love he methodically recalls. Acute nostalgia is the apparatus that propels the 90-minute play forward with an appreciable urgency—a speed that further amplifies McGoldrig's muddled existence.
Tino is named after silent film star Rudolph Valentino, who lived passionately and died young in the early 1900s. In his heyday, Valentino was a legendary actor and outstanding dancer, but women perceived him more as an iconic sex symbol and less as the silent film genius that he was. Silent film is one of Tino McGoldrig's chief vehicles for expressing his personal angst, especially when it comes to his brother Pierce's melancholic disposition and untimely death.
McGoldrig's comparisons of himself, Pierce and Valentino are undeniable. He refers to Pierce as a younger version of himself, and he describes all three men as attractive. McGoldrig describes Pierce as homosexual, his own sexuality is intentionally hard to discern, and men often questioned Valentino's masculinity because of his feminine attributes. What Pierce possessed in physical beauty, he lacked in grace and coordination. Through dance, McGoldrig seems to vindicate his deceased brother's lack of bodily grace.
McGoldrig's silent film renditions are quite good, and they magnify Kinevane's skillful use of his body and the stage to engage his audience and tell Tino's woeful stories. When words alone fail to paint McGoldrig's psychological profile accurately, Kinevane constructs a visual language with a steady use of dance, music, text, lighting, and illuminating asides. Furthermore, referencing elements of Rudolph Valentino's real life as context for understanding McGoldrig's requiem of self is a particularly effective means of heightening the play's overall intensity.
Never a Dull Moment
Kinevane's instinctive wit, exemplary timing and bold Irish honesty make Silent a must-see cultural treasure. The lighting (Pat Kinevane and Jim Culleton) and sound design (Denis Clohessy) complement Kinevane's brilliant dialogue and sweeping movements from beginning to end. Through an exceptional use of props, Kinevane conjures up profound meaning for these inanimate objects: A sultry twirl transforms a prickly woolen blanket into sensual woman likeness; a single boxing glove utterly vanquishes McGoldrig during a self-centered scrap—the glove and its devastating win are elevated to the conceptual realm. And where Kinevane’s thick Irish accent might confuse a chiefly American audience, the emotional language he creates surely clarifies.
Pat Kinevane is a 22-year veteran of stage, film, television and radio. In addition to Silent, Kinevane has penned critically acclaimed plays such as The Nun's Wood, The Plains of Enna, and Forgotten, which is also showing in repertory at the Odyssey Theatre, produced by Fishamble. For more information about Kinevane and his limited engagements in Los Angeles, contact the Odyssey Theatre at (310) 477-2055, ext. 2 or at www.OdysseyTheatre.com.