Like it’s sweat-drenched star Paul Reid, Man Of Valour by Dublin’s Corn Exchange Theatre at the Traverse doesn’t let up for a second.
An impressive 90 minute display of mime and physical theatre, the piece focuses on office worker Farrel’s dreams of escaping the tedium of his day-to-day existence by imagining himself to be action hero. Soon, his dreams become reality, and he finds himself at the centre of a fantastical story, pursued by a terrifying creature on a break-neck chase around the city.
A solo performance by Reid, the physicality of Man Of Valour is astounding. From mundane acts such as travelling in lifts and playing on his computer console; through to the blockbuster-like sequences of mid-air battles and underwater chases, Reid not only provides the expressive movement and action, but also the majority of the sound effects. Aided by some graphic novel-like video projection and well-designed lighting, his adventure rips across the stage for the piece’s 90 minute length.
Due to the frenetic nature of the action, sometimes it can be hard to ascertain exactly what is going on; and the piece could probably benefit from having around 15 minutes cut from it. With its virtuouso physical performance and innovative premise however, these are small points which are easy to forgive.
Deserving of its standing ovation at the end, Man Of Valour should be essential viewing for anyone who thinks theatre is boring and stuffy. And, unlike the Hollywood blockbusters it is inspired by, the three dimensions here are real.
Man of Valour runs until 14 Aug at the Traverse. More details here.