Paperback Time Machine: Book to the Future

Some Fringe clichés exist for a reason. One of the more tragic ones tells of the talented performer who enters the stage to face a nearly empty auditorium. Only one or two punters have showed up and the performer has the choice between quitting or to committing to an hour long figurative lap dance, vying for the attention of the stranger in the darkness. In the case of Paperback Time Machine, it was not hard to stay engaged.

He threads before our eyes the complex geography of a city stitched together over centuries by the hard work of immigrants

When writer-performer Trevor O'Connell faced the solitary reviewer for his one man show at the upstairs room in The Mash House, he seemed completely unfazed. He took out a bound diary, started flipping through the pages and told the story of how in 1946 he, the young, Irish sailor Casey, landed in New York. His story serves to explore expat Irishness throughout the past 60 years and this is captured through symbols, music and loving descriptions of landmark buildings - some gone and forgotten now, some gone but forever etched into the collective cultural memory.

O'Connell captures momentous events in small anecdotes. When he plays Dylan on the guitar, meets a tragic poet, or reenact his escapades with the lovable crook Fitz, he threads before our eyes the complex geography of a city stitched together over centuries by the hard work of immigrants. The sailor's relationship to New York is epitomised in his infatuation with a woman as complex as the city itself.

Although the performance is still being developed, O'Connell's coming-of-age story is certainly accomplished and its rich, descriptive language and quirky characters could be straight out of a Don DeLillo novel. Presented by TMT Productions and directed by Genevieve and Anna Hulme-Beaman, this play is a warm and melancholic piece of storytelling - one of those shows that should not ever struggle with empty auditoriums again. Smash the fringe cliché or miss the next Conor McPherson at your own peril.

Reviews by Annegret Marten

Church Hill Theatre

Monster Madness

Just the Tonic at The Mash House

Paperback Time Machine: Book to the Future

Underbelly, Cowgate

Nougat for Kings


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The Blurb

The story of a young, old man whose quest to find his place and time in New York City includes ridiculous encounters with movie stars, famed musicians, and the girl of his dreams. On the course of his adventure he realises that he’s not the first Irishman to roam the streets and avenues of the Big Apple, and he certainly won’t be the last. Written and performed by newcomer, Trevor O’Connell, this is a play for anyone who’s ever wondered what makes New York the world’s most talked about city.

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