Review: If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You, Old Red Lion

“I don’t want to find out it’s fucked when I’ve committed to it not being fucked”

Aside from a corker of a title, John O’Donovan’s If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You also marks a significant moment for the Old Red Lion as the first production to hail from its newly relaunched literary department. Aimed at further supporting both the development and staging of new writing, it has made an intriguing start with this rather delicately, and deceptively, meditative play. 

In a small town in the west of Ireland, Mikey and Casey are hiding out on the roof of the latter’s family home. Hiding because they just raided a petrol station for a pathetic haul and having had a little more luck in relieving Casey’s mother of a wodge of cash and his stepdad of his stash of cocaine, they’ve legged it from the police and now they’re just waiting for them to leave so they can head on to a Halloween party.

But with their perspective shifted by being up in the air and in some ways out of time, something of the confessional booth emerges on the rooftop slate. For they’re not just accomplices, they’re lovers and as they exchange stories and reveal truths and simply, just tell each other how they feel, they edge closer and closer, with just the shadow of a weighty secret about to be divulged to get in the way.

The beauty of O’Donovan’s writing is that it is so heartfelt, allowing two young men such emotional agency feels like a precious thing and as he folds in aspects of the world around his characters – the homophobia and racism, the impact of the financial crisis, the realities of being gay in a small town – you begin to really feel for them as they remain trapped on Georgia de Grey’s expanse of rooftop under Derek Anderson’s textured lighting.

Alan Mahon and Ammar Duffus both give nuanced, sensitive performances in Thomas Martin’s production, the former’s achingly inescapable petty criminality hurting like a bruise and the latter’s tentative decision-making like a plaster that needs to be ripped off, and they deliver the emotional pay-off at the end perfectly. O’Donovan could afford to be a little more rough and raw, there’s not quite the percolating sexuality to fully immerse us in the world of this relationship, but credit due all round.

Running time: 75 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 24th September

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