Shining City

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED by CONOR McPHERSON

Reviewed by SHAUN TRAYNOR

Another masterpiece from Ireland’s most beguiling dramatist, this is storytelling taken to new heights.

In Conor McPherson’s celebrated play The Weir a number of country locals told their story about what had happened in the parish, by the weir, a long time ago. Shining City is the opposite, it is set in a city (Dublin) and is as modern as you can get. A man comes to a therapist (another male) with a story to tell, a very contemporary way of setting about the age-old art of storytelling. The therapist (or counsellor) is paid to listen, yet he too has a story to tell. It is told in a different way and at a different time. There are at least four innovative, wholly original sequences in this play and because a large part of the play’s impact lies within the element of surprise, I can’t tell you about any of them; it is therefore a very difficult play to review, trust me, it’s brilliant, definitely go and see it. The central performance of Stanley Townsend is mesmerising, the dialogue is like spun silk, the play is poignant, yet there is almost a laugh in every line, deadpan, ironic humour. What a clever writer!

As with the play I reviewed last week, this play also comes with a strong language warning and a warning of strong, adult content. It does need to be there to mirror (what Shakespeare called Nature), by which he meant human nature - and the world we live in!

Jerwood Theatre Downstairs At The Royal Court, Sloane Sq SW1
Box office 020 7565 5000. Ends Sat 17th July 04