15th – 19th Sept., 8 pm., matinee 3pm Sat.

A play about hypnotism in a pub. I’ve been here before.

 Many years ago I used to drink at lunchtime with the bank manager in Athenry, the bar being conveniently adjacent to his bank. One day he suggested we go to a remote bar one evening for some good craic.  

 On arriving he went in through the back door, telling me to go in via the front 5 minutes later and not to know him. On entering I found him explaining his (non existent) skill at hypnotism to the locals, saying he’d pick one of the drinkers out and demonstrate. You can probably guess what happened next.

 But there’s very little about Tim Crouch’s play that you’ll anticipate. The playwright takes the lead role of a hypnotist performing in a pub, still suffering from the effects of having accidentally killed a young girl in a car accident a few months previously.

 By coincidence (or design?) one of the volunteers asked to participate is the child’s father, played particularly well by Neve McIntosh, who hasn’t seen the script until arriving on stage.

 Initially there’s a little fun as Neve briefly takes the part of the other participants, but they are soon dismissed and the story really starts.

 The script arrives by whispered instruction, ear pieces and written dialogue. Real emotions, time shifts and apparently genuine hypnotism circle around the grief of both parties, holding the packed audience’s rapt attention.  

 Innovative certainly, although this is its 10th anniversary, the play poses many questions, not least of which is that it might have been better played straight, without the artifice.

 However, the audience loved it. “Really cool,” said a nearby playgoer, and she was probably right. A totally new concept of theatre which would be impossible to repeat. Worth seeing on those grounds alone, but add the excellent acting and a new Father for every performance and it’s really unmissable.

Philip Horton