My Left Nut

"Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve. "Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz. Some song by the Spice Girls. My Left Nut's pre-show soundtrack alone does a great job of taking us back to 1998, although it's left to Michael Patrick to give us the geographic context of Belfast. Not the Belfast of the Troubles, or the signing of the Good Friday Agreement; this is the Belfast of an eight-year-old boy being told his father has died.

Thanks to Patrick’s brilliantly engaging and energetic performance, we truly connect with both him and his mates.

In many respects, My Left Nut perfectly fits the blueprint for a show on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It comes with an innuendo-laden title and superficial subject - specifically, growing up with an enlarged testicle - which actually covers far deeper topics, such as mortality, or a boy growing up without the influence of a father. Not only that, it does so with real tact, literary skill and genuine understanding. The accompanying programme makes a point of noting this is the first play either Michael Patrick or Oisin Kearney have written; if nothing else, that suggests we have two talented playwrights here.

Having a great script is one thing, but its value is limited without a brilliant performance and appropriate direction. As seems increasingly common in Edinburgh in August, the set here is a single wooden chair on an empty stage; it's thanks to Patrick's brilliantly engaging and energetic performance that we truly connect with both him and his mates – those "beautifully cocky, terrified guys" – as they attempt to discover how the world works and also how they can meet girls. Patrick, under the guidance of producer Una NicEoin, director Kearney and mentor/director Emma Jordan, easily holds our attention from start to finish.

This is a show not only full of humour and buzzing energy, but also one unafraid to pause and give breathing space for those quieter, emotional beats that, once you connect the dots, properly show us Patrick's own growth from Sega "Streets of Rage"-playing eight-year-old towards an adult beginning to emphasise with his mother’s experiences. An undoubted and wonderfully entertaining tour de force that deserves to be seen sooner rather than later.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

The Lyceum

Cyrano de Bergerac

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Arctic Oil

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Scotties

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

400ml. That\'s how much liquid was drained from Michael\'s left testicle when he was a teenager. More than a can of coke. He should have told someone sooner, but who could he turn to? His dad died ten years ago and besides, school is full of rumours about what the giant bulge in his trousers actually is. Who wants to stop that? The true story of a Belfast boy growing up with no father guiding him through and a giant ball to weigh him down. \'Laughing one minute, crying the next... a terrific performance\' (Irish Sunday Times).