Don’t come in late to Bingo – playing through June 24 at The Pleasance Theatre, Islington – because this show starts with a bang. Settle in and, oh, this funny show is for the grownups, so kids, here’s a tenner, go play in the beer garden.
There is only one character in this show; that’s Cormac, waiting for you when you enter the intimate space, and watch out, as Cormac’s gotten some very bad news about his health. In order to get the audience up to speed, he splits a rapid-fire monologue into two intertwined parts: the now and the past. Between the two, Cormac tells you everything you ever wanted to know about himself, and much more you probably didn’t.
Alan Flanagan is your new friend Cormac, happily living and partying in London, with his sad Irish family a few phone calls away and always an orgy to look forward to. This diagnosis, this Bingo moment, sets him off into grief, retaliation and self-discovery.
Bingo left me a little confused, and part of that was, I wasn’t sure how much I actually liked Cormac. I have a feeling this is a bloke who tells tales. He breaks hearts, fights with his family, hates himself and uses sex as a weapon. However, I think I do like Alan Flanagan. He gives himself nowhere to hide in this one man show, sliding around in his Mastermind-like office chair, as he keeps talking and talking …
There are some threads that don’t quite pay off – his parents and their long-ago tragedy don’t sound like an obstacle to Cormac’s present happiness, and the rewind on the titular comment doesn’t pack the punch that I was waiting for. There is sometimes too much glibness and forced wit, but that’s a truth I can assign to many of the people in my real life.
And as I mulled the show over the next day, I though, I do know some Cormacs. Funny, hedonistic, sharp-tongued and ultimately, caring. I really enjoyed what Alan Flanagan brought to Bingo, and it is a funny way to spend an hour.
Bingo is playing at The Pleasance Theatre Trust until 24 June