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Dublin Oldschool review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘tour de force’

Emmet Kirwan and Ian Lloyd Anderson in Dublin Oldschool at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh. Photo: Ros Kavanagh Emmet Kirwan and Ian Lloyd Anderson in Dublin Oldschool at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh. Photo: Ros Kavanagh

To call this show high-energy is to underrate it. Performers Emmet Kirwan and Ian Lloyd Anderson, working from Kirwan’s script, grab the audience and pull them along through a rap-fuelled, all-but-pauseless outpouring of words and rhythms to capture the desperate intensity of a weekend of racing from one party and rave to another, energised by music, camaraderie and almost every illegal substance they can swallow, sniff, smoke or otherwise ingest.

That ‘almost’ is significant, because the forward rush of the narrative is repeatedly punctuated by encounters between Kirwan’s Jason and his heroin-addicted older brother, played, along with other roles, by Ian Lloyd Anderson. Those meetings might only be in Jason’s mind, but nonetheless provide the real arc of the story.

While the ostensible goal of the weekend is for Jason to get a chance to DJ one of the raves, the real adventure he is undertaking begins with realising what a dead-end journey he is on, and perhaps taking the first steps toward growing up.

The incessant flow of words and driving, rhythmic delivery sometimes tests the audience’s ability to keep up, the words decaying into contentless, verbal music. But director Phillip McMahon and the two performers generally catch those moments and skilfully insert pauses or changes of pacing, as much to let the audience catch its breath as the actors.

Dublin Oldschool is a tour de force of performance in the service of a script with more depth and body than first appears.

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Unwaning, high-intensity performances drive a story of desperate sensation-seeking