Michael West’s daring, innovative new play Man of Valour has already won plaudits in his native Ireland – and with good reason. This is theatre at its starkest and most thrilling: Farrell Blinks, in a virtuoso one-man performance from Paul Reid, is an office worker trapped in a monochrome world, sifting through his memory—and his self—in a cold, dystopian Dublin.
Man of Valour is simultaneously a triumph of method and so much more than that. In an almost totally bare space, with Aedin Cosgrove’s blue-gray video projections and Denis Clohessy’s sound compositions the only anchorage, the audience follows Reid’s clicks and hisses as he moves through his life: stepping on and off trains, interacting with his aging neighbour, learning from an obsequious colleague that his unit is to be decentralised to rural Roscommon.
Shards of memory impale Reid at every turn as he escapes into the echo chamber of his own mind. Meanwhile, between radio hisses, the city’s grim decay is revealed.
Following proceedings with Reid’s ventriloquism as the only guide is a tall order. But the difficulty of uniting the play's disparate, partially revealed narrative threads brilliantly mimics the character’s own travails.
Dublin-based The Corn Exchange are fast earning a reputation for some of the most inventive, exciting theatre on the Fringe. Powerful, thought-provoking and superbly produced, Man of Valour is the company’s most accomplished Edinburgh production yet.