Michael Workman - Ave Loretta
Review: Sinead McKeough
Death, isolation, creativity, depression. There is a lot of weight in Michael Workman's latest comedy offering and, although on the surface a eulogy for a lost love doesn't sound like the most promising basis for a comedic show, there is much more to be found here than suffering.
In Ave Loretta, Workman shows us his heart - sorrow, poetry, humour and all. It is a mark of his unique talent that he quickly manages to capture the hearts of his whole audience in return.
For 50 minutes, bouts of joyous laughter are run ragged by fierce melancholy, resulting in an odd kind of emotional whiplash that you try to shake off only to discover that the pain is almost worse without it.
Workman uses his words like weapons and leaves your heart strings tugged, tangled, and knotted with metaphors, your mouth agape and your head reeling. It is a performance that manages to be at once devastating and hilarious. Of course, anyone who has seen this masterful comedian before would know he is rather adept at finding a point of balance between the two.
In a show that is so much about words, the only thing that feels amiss is the use of a projector to display introductory drawings between some sections of the story. While the artworks are amusing, and the same idea certainly worked extremely well in his previous show Mercy, it seems that the few minutes that were spent on showing them would have been better off filled with more of Workman's tantalising parable.
Workman has advertised this as a dark show, and in many ways he is not wrong. Much of his subject matter would be well suited to dramatic theatre. He pegs Ikea furniture as the cornerstone of lost childhood innocence, paints bleak pictures of suburban captivity and confusion, and dwells on the pointlessness of feigning positivity in a world where depression makes so much sense.
Still, beyond all the darkness and somehow also from within it, quite simply, Ave Loretta just radiates light.
Ave Loretta ends on February 1.