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Radio Rosario – The Mick Lally Theatre, Galway

Writer: Little John Nee

Directors: Laura Sheeran and Little John Nee

Reviewer: Ciara L. Murphy 

“I’m a singer. If I don’t sing, I get sick”.

Valve Hegarty is a singer, he spends his weekends singing cabaret at a bar by the sea in Galway City. He also works, reluctantly, at a studio, creating jingles for advertisements. This is a clear waste of Hegarty’s vast imagination.

The show, performed in full by Little John Nee, is in familiar territory. Nee has had success in the past with his style of storytelling through music and this show is no different. The set, designed by Triona Lillis, hints at a space devoid of era. It could be the 1940s, or it could be the 2040s. Laura Sheeran’s video art and the music and sound design (Sheeran, Nee, and Tommy McLaughlin) add to this sense of timelessness.

Nee himself is full of energy and the language of this production is evocative and poetic. His character, Valve, is likeably odd, an eccentric who has multiple strange adventures throughout this show. One such adventure forms the crux of the tale, a visit to the old Connemara Marconi Wireless Station. On this journey he encounters the ghostly sounds of the past. One of these ghosts is Rosario.

Rosario is a young girl filled with imagination and she uses her (almost magical) radio channel to tell the world everything she knows. These flashes of childlike wonder are mirrored in Nee’s portrayal of the soft-spoken Valve.

As flashes of information signalling the rise of historical fascism also pepper the piece, and giving the audience clues as to where in time the piece currently sits, these whimsical interludes form an interesting juxtaposition. There is an intentional prescience to this piece and Nee tackles it head on, drawing from current world events to accelerate this theme. The piece begs the question, what do you do when even imagination is being commodified?

Nee’s songs are the key to the storytelling, and help to create a fuller picture of this strange and timeless world. Nee also cautions us, encouraging us to learn from the past: “If love is losing what are you going to do? Start hating just so you can be on the winning side?”

Radio Rosario is a play about the power of imagination and the hope that it can bring. A must see.

Runs until 9th September 2017 and from 28th-29th September as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival | Image: Laura Sheeran