Martin’s overbearing mother dies leaving him homeless, helpless and unfortunately hopeless. Although she is dead, her sneering presence and voice are heard throughout the piece and actor Clive Marlowe switches between her character, Martin, and his many female conquests in this hour-long, one-man show.
His secret weapon is a cunning talent he develops with the help of a lesbian friend, and there’s a reason his surname is Lingus
Anyone who takes on a show of this magnitude must be applauded, as Marlowe stands on stage with just a couple of crates, some chalk and a folded picture of his dead mother for company. The premise of the play is that Martin uses his charm, charisma and good looks to worm his way into the houses and hearts of unsuspecting women of a certain age. However hard Marlowe tries, we are never fully convinced he is possession of any of these traits but that only makes his conquests more poignantly tragic. If Martin can pull these women, then surely anyone can.
Suspension of belief in Martin’s appeal becomes more and more difficult as the play progresses. He is frequently homeless, probably needs a good bath and despite the script describing his beautifully veneered teeth: his winning smile is, like Martin, a bit of a loser. Would he really be able to stand outside a turtle-necked sweater-clad woman’s house looking like he does, make her laugh and be invited in? I’m not so sure. He is hardly a catch.
His secret weapon is a cunning talent he develops with the help of a lesbian friend, and there’s a reason his surname is Lingus. He also listens to them, takes an interest in them and makes them feel special whilst admiring their home’s original features. If that’s all a guy needs to do, then women of a certain age are depressingly gullible.
Writer Lorraine Mullaney’s clever script is peppered with jokes, which occasionally land, but sometimes the words don’t flow as easily as they should and that makes that makes the marks harder to hit. Su Gliroy directs and Marlowe differentiates the female characters by accent and physicality, although if there’s a permanent cigarette in the mother’s hand, he needs to hold two fingers up rather than his whole palm. It’s a small and immaterial observation, but irritating all the same.
The climax of the piece involves Martin losing his mind, gaining a child and finishing the chalk picture on the wall, although frequently checking he still has a couple of windows to go is not a good sign of investment in the piece. Also switching between the increasingly manic man and the repetitively calm voice of his latest lady diffuses the jeopardy of this finale.
There are some really lovely moments and parts of the play are quite moving. Will exorcising the ghost of his domineering mother mean that finally his luck will change? We are left with the hope that it will.
Martin Lingus is well written, adequately acted and simply directed, but like Martin’s life it’s a shame it didn’t amount to more.