When Michael was eight, his father died as a result of motor neurone disease, leaving his mother to bring up four children in Belfast. In his teenage years, he faces the usual embarrassing trauma such as shaving and masturbation.
But one day, Michael notices something is not quite right. There is a lump in his left testicle that’s getting bigger. With no father to turn to for advice, Michael buries his head in the sand.
For a first gig by writers Michael Patrick and Oisin Kearney, My Left Nut ticks several boxes. There’s plenty of humour, much of it stemming from banter with his school friends Connor and Tommy.
Locker-room talk about girls, music and parties permeates the narrative and there is so much energy in the writing it’s almost exhausting. Patrick’s startlingly physical performance reflects this frenzy of adolescence as well as the pressure he is under to face his fears.
Yet for all this rites-of-passage humour, it’s Michael’s mother’s story that gives this play the balance and perspective it needs. As Michael struggles to find the strength to face a diagnosis, he finally realises how strong his mother has been and the dynamic between the two of them changes.