Written by: Gavin Kostick
Directed by: Bryan Burroughs
Cast: Aonghus Og McAnally
"No man can ever fight their Da when both are in their prime. And that’s the tragedy." So says Dan son of Dan son of Dan (played by Aonghus son of Aonghus son of Ray) in Fight Night, the Little Gem winning play.
An hour long workout with a monologue woven through it, it charts the return to the ring of a wayward fighter who walked away from it all six years before following a blow out with his Da moments before a championship fight.
Following the birth of his own son he's drawn back to the family trade and made to square up to the questions that fire the 'excuse voice" in his head. And as he questions what role his name played in getting him to the level he is currently at (while also questioning the role it played in preventing him becoming the fighter he could have been) he ponders why he's pulled the gloves back on in the first place. Is it about earning his father's long lost respect? Is it so his son Jordan can look him in the eye when he grows up? Or is it a love of the sport that drives him after all?
As part of the Show in a Bag initiative launched by Fishamble last year, the piece was specifically written for Aonghus Og McAnally based on his own proposal and while this lends the production a certain richness, it stops short of answering any questions we might have about the gift one generation passes onto the next. The piece works best when exploring the questions of self worth that come with being one of many and when Dan Jnr wonders if what he was lacking, when it came to having "it", was psychological he leaves us in as much doubt as he is himself.
It's a terrific turn from a beautiful actor who engages the audience by eyeing them directly, only breaking eye contact when drifting off in thought, taking us with him. He skips, spars and does press ups sending sweat flying as he spins a tale you've heard a zillion times before but it's done so simply and honestly you are more than willing to lend your ears to it all over again.
There are plenty of plays that look at what happens when Daddy wasn't there. Here's one that looks at what happens when he was. And the fresh set of problems that are there to be conquered. Bryan Burrough’s assured direction and McAnally’s everyman portrayal assure that he is given his due.