Misterman is a one-man transfixing presentation of Irish playwright Enda Walsh’s enthralling poetic prose. The profound and unforgettable production from FizzWack Theatre Company, delves into the dark reserves of the human mind at the iconic Bluestone Church Arts Space.
The fascinating play revolves around the taunted small town “eejit” Thomas Magill (Travis Handcock and co-founder of FizzWack Theatre). Thomas functions alone in a ‘make-believe’ world with his “Mammy and cat Trixie”. He is a bewildered young man trapped in his own ‘episodes’ and relies on daily rituals to keep the ‘voices in his head’ at bay.
He arrives home to a Doris Day song blaring from numerous cassette players strewn around his family home. He removes the batteries, yet the tune still plays. The ‘voices’ have distorted his devout Christian values and his perceptions of the local townspeople, where he resides in Inishfree. Thomas believes his religious convictions and illusory angels can guide the lost sheep of Inishfree into the light of the Lord. He tape-records and repeats their daily sins to his imaginary “Mammy” and strokes a brown jumper—the cat.
The townspeople are stopping Thomas enjoying the simple pleasures of life. From the moment he opens his front door, Mr O’Donnell’s dog barks everyday before his walk into town. He indulges in a slice of cheesecake at the café and is interrupted by the overzealous flirtations of the married café owner, Mrs Cleary. He’s betrayed again over a friendly pot of tea at Simple Eamon Moran’s, when he discovers Eamon is in the possession of a naked ‘girlie calendar’.
Thomas’s personality disorder, leads him on an ‘unholy’ persecution of the towns folk. The time bomb starts to tick faster in the detached pockets of his mind.
Travis Handcock’s convincing Southern Irish accent heightens Thomas’s religious rantings. His highly ornamented tones in an Irish ballad at the father’s gravesite, is one of the many endearing elements in the production.
Weber’s direction and the production team have enhanced the ethereal surrounds of the expansive church. The interactive set design is a wondrous art scape and look out for the ‘egg’.
Some of the lengthy and in-depth prose in Walsh’s monologues, are perhaps, necessary to invoke the ravages of Thomas’s mental illness? At times Handcock’s performance is so exuberant; it’s hard to believe there is only one person on stage.
The intriguing story is punctuated by neurosis and exaggerated reactions. The perplexing character of Thomas evolves under the pivotal direction of Kris Weber and Handcock’s exemplary technique. There are masterful moments that shock. This is a heartfelt interpretation that examines the stigma associated with mental illness.
The acoustics in the Bluestone Church Arts Space is an experience within itself. This multifaceted play is as informative as it is unique. Travis Handcock is realistic in his portrayal and he embodies the tempered and tragic life of Thomas and his belief systems to survive.