Review: LAD, VAULT Festival

Equal parts hilarious and horrific, One Duck’s LAD puts laddishness under the spotlight at the VAULT Festival

Irish theatre company One Duck are certainly keeping busy. They’ve only just closed their run of John O’Donovan’s Flights at the Omnibus and now they’re opening LAD at the VAULT Festival. And across the two shows, it is clear to see the artistic themes driving them at the moment, looking how society has shaped modern masculinity and asking what kind of state it is in.

Writer/performers Alan Mahon and Rhys Dunlop’s LAD is all about Steve (Mahon), a nice enough chap who wants to work in a zoo and who’s prepping an upcoming best man’s speech. But there’s a nagging sense of trouble, he was an accountant but now he’s stacking shelves, and that nagging sense has a nagging voice, personified in toto by Dunlop, suggesting an entirely split self.

And so this one-man play is actually a dialogue, between Steve’s inner and outer voices, between the attempt at social civility and a surrender to a raging toxic masculinity. As Steve edges towards getting a new girlfriend, the truth about his attitudes towards women and equality are laid bare in front of us with a brutal frankness that is equal parts hilarious and horrific. 

Thomas Martin’s production is undoubtedly cocksure, right down to the set design, and Cillian McNamara’s lighting and Ekatarina Solomatina’s sound are imaginative and inventive. And there is care here to avoid LAD ever being an endorsement of the sexism and laddishness portrayed, even if I’m not sure I fully buy the final flourish. That said, Mahon and Dunlop perform with admirable energy and impeccable timing throughout.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Keith Dixon
LAD is booking at the VAULT Festival until 8th March

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