Myself and a fellow thespian went to see this performance on its fourth night in the Baby Grand.
There was a good crowd, not every seat filled but enough. From reading various status updates, the play promised to be fantastic.
It’s a bildungsroman of sorts told in a one man performance by the excellent Gerard Jordan.
It’s a tale of growing up amidst poverty and violence in Divis flats, West Belfast.
The main character is Gerard Mc Manus, a talented boxer who had to give up his career after a near fatal assault.
From the beginning, it puts everyone in a philosophical mood. It combines a modern upbeat soundtrack with profound thinking – all a bit Trainspottingy.
It’s heavy on audio visual. Although showing one same clip twice was unnecessary and some parts of the script are repetitive.
At times the actor speaks over video clips and it’s difficult to hear. Something the production team may wish to look into when it plays in the Roddies next week.
The winning moment for me was the use of Blinded by the Lights by The Streets. Kudos to the person that recommended the inclusion of this track. It was short but effective in portraying McManus’ battle with addiction. It reignited my love for Mike Skinner. So, thanks for that.
Gerard Jordan is probably my favourite local actor. Without being a creepy stalker and beaten up by his partner, I’d like to point out that he’s pleasing on the eye and has a great stage presence.
I’d love to see him in Series Five of Love/Hate. His Dublin accent is impeccable and would be added swoon material to the already brilliant screenplay.
In Lemonade Sandwich he plays a number of characters in the show. But I felt he is too talented an actor to have played the part of Gerard McManus.
For a start, he’s too built and gentlemanly. Gerard McManus didn’t earn the nickname ‘Skinny’ for nothing and he comes across as a bit of a gobshite.
Nobody gets ‘jumped’ that many times without bringing it upon themselves.
Of all the characters, Lego is the best. I felt Ciaran Nolan would have been an ideal actor for this part. But then it would have left Gerard Jordan with the character of McManus which to be fair, isn’t all that exciting. And it would have been compared with the duo’s performance in The Sweety Bottle. A play with a script and plot that soars way above Lemonade Sandwich.
Lego is without doubt, the saviour of this story. He’s the perfect wingman and ‘go to’ guy.
One thing McManus should be respected for is his belief in boxing champion Paddy Gallagher. There is one part of the production where you can almost feel the audience on the edge of their seats. It was very hard to not bounce up and cheer him on.
When Gerard McManus entered the Body For Life competition some years ago, a brief bio of his life was circulating Facebook and it gained much public interest. This is what attracted me to seeing this play.
But a lot of these details were omitted from this adaptation.
I feel the writer should have delved deeper into McManus’ past and probed for more information on who supported him during his darkest most vulnerable hours.
If this story was written accurately, it would make a very good book. But only with every detail of McManus’ life being told – warts and all.
As a mother, I found it sickening that only one of his four children was acknowledged in this script. Maybe it’s just the maternal instinct that tells you not to ignore your kids existence.
This show is great for a blow in to go and see and fully deserved the standing ovation. The cast and production crew were excellent – but not the wishy washy storyline.
It comes across as being written for an American audience. But not for someone who knows the craic.