Ripley Bogle is “better educated, better looking and a nicer person than the Queen of England,” yet he is starving to death on her doorstep in St James’s Park.
Fuelled by memory, booze and ego, his mission in this powerful one man show is to tell his life story and work out “how the hell this happened to me”.
Although one performance is a fundraiser for The Big Issue, this is not a lesson along the lines of ‘it could be you’. Bogle’s tale, adapted from Robert McLiam Wilson’s novel by actor Sean O Tarpaigh, is a complex one, taking us through homeless London, upper class Cambridge, working class Belfast and the whole palette of human frailty, beauty, intelligence and wickedness along the way. And it needs nothing more than a bloke in a grey room with some skilful lighting to do it.
What is interesting about the monologue is the different voices contained in it - at one moment lyrical, philosophical, the next charming and witty, then bitter and crude. Although skilfully woven by O Tarpaigh, it can feel at times as if he is reading straight from the book. But the production excels when Bogle acts out the scenes of his past, revealing his need to show off to his audience.
These are among the many hilarious moments which save the show from being a rather heavygoing hour and a half without an interval, and which would have worked well with a fuller audience. Unfortunately a limited marketing budget means it has not received the attention it deserves or got in Dublin and Edinburgh.