A very strong production made all the more impressive by the fact that the actor and director Stephen Darcy are still both very early in their careers.
It’s a very good play, and the script is extremely strong. On paper, the character McPherson presents is fairly unlikable: unfaithful, endlessly selfish, violent alcoholic. However, even as he is recounting his awful deeds, he brings in just enough self-awareness that he softens our criticism by forestalling it. He's an intelligent guy (as he tells us several times), and McPherson treads exactly the right balance between giving him as much self-knowledge as he needs to be sympathetic, and not so much that it stretches credulity that he should be in this mess.
Citizens Theatre Actor Intern Martin Donaghy gives a wonderful performance. The play requires him to be incredibly endearing and sympathetic if we are to stay with him for his whole mad adventure, and he does it with room to spare. He is perhaps at his strongest when describing the very worst, most indefensibly violent things he has done. Donaghy relates the events plainly, but infuses his performance with a sort of wonder at his own actions that allows us to see him as something of an innocent.
The costume and set design let the side down a little. Donaghy's costume (made during a Citizens Theatre workshop) includes a jacket that cost, we are told, £500 (almost £1000 in today's money), and was chosen for him by a monied woman with excellent taste. It is impossible to believe either of that jacket. The set by Neil Haynes and Jamie Hayes has the merit of being simple, which suits the play very well, but they have chosen a symbolic approach that seriously lacks subtlety–in a play about an alcoholic, they line the edges of the stage with bottles of alcohol.
Aesthetic decisions notwithstanding, however, this is a very strong production made all the more impressive by the fact that the actor and director Stephen Darcy are still both very early in their careers. In all its essentials it acquits itself well as a sensitive portrait of a difficult character.