views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Soho Theatre
8th July 2015


Pat Kinevane as Tino McGoldrig

Photography © Ger Blanch

In cheap merlot, veritas, as the saying goes. Or something close to that. Tino McGoldrig (Pat Kinevane) is an alcoholic, wracked with guilt over his brother's suicide, and his estrangement from his wife and child. Swigging a bottle, he tells us tales of his life, with a strange elegance behind every stagger and stumble. You don't name someone after silent film legend Rudoloph Valentino and expect him not to grow up to have drama in his blood. In this regard, Tino does not disappoint.

Kinevane immediately befriends two members of the audience - a man and a woman - making them the everyman and everywoman. He's not just talking to them directly, he's speaking to all of us through them, eliciting our sympathy for his character. He builds an easy rapport with the room, tottering, shimmying and darting back and forth, his actions as unsteady and unpredictable as his mind. Mental illness is frequently associated with homelessness, and Tino hints at his own decline with mock phone calls to a mental health helpline using dark humour to diffuse the tension. This is a show which explores some bleak subject matter, but there's plenty of craic too.

Tino asks us repeatedly if he can tell us a story; a simple request. Kinevane glides between male and female characters with an effortless androgyny, mixing his own style of storytelling with that of the other Valentino. It does feel like the pacing lags slightly with all the silent movie insertions, but the link to the big screen actor further underlines Tino's fall from grace. We're dazzled by big screen stars, holding them with a certain admiration. Rough sleepers? We don't aspire to be them, we desperately hope we'll never find out what it's really like to walk a mile in their shoes. Tino is so far removed from the movie glamour.

He's excellent at spinning a yarn, but Tino isn't trying to fool us into opening our wallets: he wants us to open our hearts. Alone, unnoticed, he's seemingly become invisible and just wants to be heard for a little while. The sound of a coin clinking as it hits the bottom of a metal cup always comes at an unexpected moment, jolting him (and us) out of his reverie, back to the harsh reality of street life. It's a simple noise, but the sound design by Denis Clohessy is painfully effective. It's also beautiful in places, with Clohessy giving an almost ethereal, magical feel to some of Tino's movement.

There are many themes explored in this one-man show, penned by Kinevane himself and directed by Jim Culleton, but the overwhelming message is one of remorse. Tino's failure to protect his brother from the bigoted bullies torments him the most. His brother was to his mind a beautiful creature, and one he could have and should have saved. We jump back and forth from many different events, but everything always comes back down to Tino's love and anguish for Pearse.

Silent is a gorgeous blend of physical theatre and cabaret. Kinevane writes about the marginalised with such poignancy that we can't help but want to listen; he gives them back a voice. He delivers a thoroughly intense performance of a man who has lost everything and carries the full horror of that realisation with him every day. Tino smiles through the rain and we smile back at him, aching to tell him everything's going to be alright, even though we know it can't possibly be.

Silent opened on 7th July and runs until 25th July 2015 at the Soho Theatre.

Nearest tube station: Tottenham Court Road (Northern, Central)

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