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O Go My Man
Last uploaded : Monday 6th Feb 2006 at 01:56
Contributed by : Bryony Young


‘O go my man’ is Stella Feehily’s second full-length play currently running at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The play’s title, which we are informed by one of the characters soon into the first act, is an anagram of ‘monogamy,’ and consequently the play centres on a tangled web of sexual relationships, exploring the reality of long-term cohabitation and the breakdown of the institution of marriage.

Set in present day Dublin, Feehily exhibits a society whose culture has shifted to an obsession with reality television and the celebrity, whose relationships are conceived and cultivated through mobile technology, and where a multitude of choices are presented at almost every turn, whether it be to choose which variety of coffee at a coffee stand in an airport, or what takes precedence, your marriage or your affair.

Thematically what works well in the play is the shift that Feehily creates with perspective, so that the individual personal lives of the characters are viewed in an increasingly fragile wider world. Neil, an ageing political reporter, is at the centre of these issues within the play. He has just returned from reporting in Darfur, and is heading to Chad at the close of the play. During one scene in the latter half of the play, he is tied with a sack covering his head, in an ‘exercise’ to teach him the best methods of pleading to captors. He mentions his wife and children too early, which is an “ace card” not to be thrown away too early in these kind of situations.

It is apparent what Feehilly is trying to do here, changing the pace and the angle of reflection about marriage, family and the universality of these concepts.

Directed by Max Stafford-Clark, what is most noticeable are the comic elements of the play, which range from the very obvious, with a scene where the cheated wife goes to confront the mistress who is acting the part of the cat in Alice in Wonderland and therefore dressed accordingly, to the subtle. The interplay in the direction between these extremes of comedy is very effective.

The use of movement within the piece was also very interesting, as conventionally ‘natural’ movements, especially hand gestures and times when bodies come into contact with bodies, are played with becoming strikingly fluid at certain points, and delightfully watchable.

Although the accents of some of the actors have a tendency to wander at points during the piece, the whole cast deliver solid performances. What is difficult to adjust to are the separations of the scenes, which are broke by sharp blackouts and music blasted into the auditorium. This gives a sense that a series of photographs have been taken and are being presented, and does connect to the end of the piece. However, I am not sure if this is in fact the intention and other than this, and making the audience sit up straight and listen, it does not achieve a great deal.

Overall the play is a well-acted dialogue exploring choice. One of the crucial points Feehily makes is about people’s individual peculiarities, such as one characters need for certain kitchen knives to be only used to cut certain foods, and this is the real joy. It celebrates the intricacies of people in all their glory, which again links to the end of the play when Ian takes his ‘revenge.’

Overshadowing the characters’ self-obsessions is the appreciation that elsewhere in the world conflict takes priority over the individual and this constant presence throughout the play demands the audience to focus their perspective. Conflict in the developing world highlights the artificial superficiality of the developed. If only for this exploration the play is worth going to see.

‘O go my man’ performed by Out of Joint theatre company, and directed by Max Stafford-Clark runs at the Royal Court Theatre, London until 11th February 2006 and is then on tour throughout the UK in various locations through 1st April 2006.


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