Presented by Only Children Theatre Company
The Old Fitz Theatre
129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo
Season: 29 – 10 October
Francis Bacon was an artist known for his grim outlook and style, an unapologetic homosexual and a figure who lived a life fettered with inordinate gambling and drinking exploits. Bacon was a polarising and immensely fascinating individual, making for an ideal subject for devised theatre. Director and writer of Bacon and Eggs was accordingly inspired by Bacon’s Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, his artistic workspace preserved since his death, and crafted the theatrical work which is currently being staged at the Old Fitz. The collision between the present and the past makes for an intelligent and comical production, served sunny side up.
The show opens on two men who have travelled from Australia to the Dublin Fringe Festival to stage their play, which resulted in meagre critical and audience reception, to their dismay. They have been drinking away their disappointment and mentally preparing for their return home. Inspiration strikes to break into an old gallery…where they stumble across the ghost of the great Francis Bacon. An interesting exchange follows, as the men converse and contemplate the enigmatic meaning of artistry and art while the idiosyncrasies of each character bring the humour of the piece to life. The show currently possesses the late 9:30pm slot at the Old Fitz, but don’t be dismayed if you’re not a night owl – the show is a snappy 40 minutes, keeping things short and sweet.
The dialogue drives Bacon and Eggs, often taking forth in relative stillness on stage. The physical conservatism pleasantly does not result in lulls in the work, as the actors each resound with focus and a comfort in their own skin that allows the dialogue to take its shape. Ryan Jones and Tom Dent work splendidly together as a duo, bouncing off one another and yet maintaining their own distinct characterisation as events develop. Adrian Mulraney enters as Francis Bacon, decked out in a fabulous black skivvy and leather jacket and oozing artistic flair. Mulraney has a ball with Bacon’s ostentatious dialogue and the actor’s extensive experience with voice work is certainly evident. The stark contrast between Bacon and the two actors is hilariously obvious in their approach as artists, Bacon incisive and pretentious, while the two Australians are humble and yet idealistic in creating art with meaning. I found Bacon’s infatuation with creating artifice in his art intriguing, as so often artist’s can be obsessed with capturing the ‘truth’ in their work. However it seems that in Bacon’s artifice, he in fact obtains a closer version of the truth as he bypasses the romanticisation of ‘truth’ and ‘beauty’ and rather presents the violent and corrupted aspect of humanity we may prefer to ignore. Alongside this morsel, there is an abundance of food for thought wrapped up in this pithy play.
Bacon and Eggs engages with both the intellectual and the comedic side to art and highlights how converging artistic approaches do not diminish the artist, or their work. In the bounds of subjectivity and creative passion, artistic difference is to be celebrated. Chris Edmund’s production is a delight achieving laughter and reflection in such a short work, a skill indeed.