If you’re a regular theatre-goer like me, it not very often that you are suddenly re-awakened to that feeling of seeing an amazing piece of theatre for the first time again.
That is precisely what happened at 2pm, on Saturday 21st of April 2012, at the National Theatre.
With roles in big hollywood blockbusters such as Batman Begins and Inception , as well as smaller indie films such as 28 Days Later and Perrier’s Bounty, it isn’t hard to think that recruiting Cillian Murphy to appear in a one-man show in the Theatreland that is London, was nothing more than a solid financial decision for the National. However, it is simply an astonishing return to the home of Cillian’s career (his debut performance in Edna Walsh’s Disco Pigs (1997) put him on the map for stardom). Theatre is what this actor does best, and he demonstrates exactly how during the astonishing 90-minute play, Misterman.
We see Cillian emerge as Thomas Magill in this vast empty-looking stage, actually filled with lots of surprises (I shan’t spoil them for you). As he runs around the stage, he takes us through a day in the life of Thomas, embodies all the characters that he meets with heightened sensitivity and meticulous detail. We see him as this God-loving, socially awkward boy trapped in the body of a (rather gorgeous) man, trying to ensure that his hometown of Inishfree stays true to the word of God, but instead remains disgusted by their immoralities.
There is something terribly Beckettian about the performance: the use of tape recorders to voice certain character interactions has the same haunting quality of Krapps Last Tape (1958), and the cyclical feeling we get from Thomas replaying his life in such detail ‘car…. dog…. the door slams behind me…’ has that purgatory nature associated with Waiting For Godot (1953).
The highlight (quite literally) was the wonderful lighting used onstage: the flourescent crosses used to represent the graveyard were simultaneously reminiscent of the red light district/Vegas lights that are representative of everything Thomas truly hated about modern-day society. This wonderful contrast provided the metaphoric representation of the glorification of religion, and worked beautifully within the scene where Thomas visits his father.
It is a must-see piece of theatre: whether you’re an acting fan or a technical geek, this show has so much depth through its simplicity. God damnit I wished I was involved with it.