Early Grave, Fashionably Late

Come and join Mr Cooper Sullivan as he tells the tale of how he became embroiled in a murder which takes him on a wild adventure that will have you giggling the whole way though. In this solo-performance Samuel Carroll recreates assassination attempts, cock-fighting, chases through the streets of Dublin onstage and plays a wide range of characters from seedy gamblers to the Queen of England (no not that one).

A really well performed and funny piece of character storytelling that I would recommend to anyone interested in an in-depth yarn.

Mr Sullivan is an explorer, cartographer, dandy and spectacularly ineffective amateur detective, who one evening after using his storytelling talents, wit and charm to canvas funds for a trip to Peru, stumbles into witnessing a murder. This results in him becoming a ‘very curious bystander’, trying to track down the perpetrators initially with a confidently blasé level of ineffectiveness. Resulting in energetic fight scenes and chases, performed excellently and believably by Carroll alone. Eventually Mr Sullivan’s investigations take him to London, and Brighton and into the very corridors of power in search of answers.

The character of Mr Sullivan is suavely charming in his performance, just at ease flirting and engaging with the audience as he is onstage recreating his tale. Carroll’s characterisation is unshakeable throughout the entire performance and the storytelling style allows him to show off Mr Sullivan’s many facets – from the fight scenes to a wonderful speech about the glory that is coffee and perhaps one of the most hilarious post-coital descriptions of the night before I have ever seen. Bizarre, yet making good use of Mr Sullivan’s turns of phrase. However, we would occasionally lose some of Mr Sullivan’s words in his clipped and speedy delivery.

The tale is excellently researched. The writer knows his era very well and possibly had a little too much knowledge of Victorian transportation than you would ever need. There are nice little cameos from historical figures that help pin down the story in time. The comic tale includes a surprisingly sweet character arc for Mr Sullivan and a sad moral that the rule of law does not necessarily equal justice. However the show could do with a little cutting to bring it into an hour. The plot becomes a bit drawn out and the introduction of several crucial characters right at the end feels a little anticlimactic after all the running around before.

Overall this was a really well performed and funny piece of character storytelling that I would recommend to anyone interested in an in-depth yarn.  

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

Fearless explorer. Audacious dandy. Reluctant detective. An improbable account of the malodorous goings on of the night of 28 November 1889, and the events which followed – thrillingly re-enacted! Victorian Dublin's consummate gentleman-adventurer (and rakish raconteur) damn near loses a cufflink in an astonishing tale of derring-do – and don'ts – that leads him unwittingly into one of the great scandals of Irish history. Murder! Villainy! Corruption! Hyperbole! Physical storytelling prowess, blending Lecoq-trained virtuosity with a Wildean flair. (Christopher Samuel Carroll will also be appearing in The Emperor of America at C venues).

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