London Pleasance – until 24 June 2018
Guest reviewer: Lola Claire
Cormac sits, swirling in an office chair and singing along to the house music as the audiences comes in. Meet your new best friend. He’s about to take you on a very intimate journey. “Bingo. B-I-N-G-” you can guess the rest. At first, I was afraid Alan Flanagan’s (writer and performer) Bingo would be as predictable as that; a charismatic gay man finds out he has a full house of sexually transmitted diseases. Sounds like a familiar narrative, but you haven’t met Cormac nor have you heard his very 2018 story.
The Jolly Irish Millennial making his way in London has a lot to tell us. Developed from a SLAM scratch, it’s Flanagan’s detail, comedy, and honesty that really bring this piece to life. Directed by Dan Hutton, the exquisitely rendered anecdotes of your new friend could make you laugh and cry. Flanagan’s Cormac has vulnerability and presence, taking a spare seat to share the adventures through his humorous and often painful journey through self-acceptance and healing. This is not a bone-rattling sermon, but simply a man; a friend’s journey.
Modern London life is painted in joyful and harrowing anecdotes as believable (or not) as your friend’s drunk confessions. This is a strength of Flanagan’s, crafting utter honesty in his fictitious character. For example, Cormac recounts of meeting his doctor for a Costa only to spew his flat white everywhere – she gently sifts through his vomit to see what pills were no longer in his belly. The humanity and comedy Flanagan brings to this painful situation is gripping, as are the relationships.
The relationships in this piece are vivid – a fact even more profound by the fact that this is a 60-minute one-man monologue. Cormac’s doctor and soon friend, the beautiful hijabed Yasmin, is caring and curious. Cormac’s sister Siobhan is feisty, throwing a lot of punches and love. Flanagan presents them with such intensity, you can’t help but feel they are your friends too.
My verdict? Bingo is a friendly trip through the humorous and hard-hitting. While there is an element of predictability, especially the ending, it is moving; I found myself falling in love again with the wonderfully complex, flawed and loving things human beings are.