Blindboy in Vicar Street: There is a plenty of charm but the show needs elevating

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webnexttech | Blindboy in Vicar Street: There is a plenty of charm but the show needs elevating
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Blindboy (live podcast) Vicar Street, Monday, January 22nd ★★★☆☆ In an age of increasingly bombastic live podcast productions, Blindboy roots his firmly in the basics.There are no bells and whistles here, no visuals or flashy lighting or set design, just a couple of chairs and a table.
On the first of a two-night stand at Vicar Street, he begins by reading a short story titled The Donkey, from his latest collection, Topographia Hibernica.
It’s a tender, funny, beautiful piece of writing.
His guest is Mark Mehigan, author of the upcoming book, This is Not a Self-Help Book But It Might Just Help You, and who also presents his own podcast.
While people with podcasts interviewing other people with podcasts is rarely a compelling pitch, Mehigan is on hand to discuss an important topic: sobriety and addiction.
Mehigan is relatively early on in his recovery, and it takes bravery to present one’s story to a live audience in this manner.
Although the interview is rather devoid of context, Mehigan details his struggles with mental health and alcohol addiction.
The conversation is especially illuminating when Mehigan offers his thoughts on Ireland’s national cocaine problem.
Mehigan speaks of the insidiousness of the drug, how it’s “rotting people’s brains”, and how those with dependencies have a tendency to practice avoidance in tackling their own issues by pointing to others.
“In my experience,” Mehigan says at one point, “people who do cocaine love nothing more than talking about people who do more cocaine than them.” When guest and host riff well and bounce off each other, it’s an enlivening conversation.
At other times, the lack of structure causes the marquee of chat that should be taut, to sag.
For such an original broadcaster as Blindboy, whose monologues are packed with information, the ground that’s tread throughout occasionally feels a little familiar.
There are plenty of spontaneous, fun segues, the kinds of things Blindboy excels at, somehow finding entry points to discuss how he ended up watching a man masturbate in Edinburgh while chatting to Keith Duffy from Boyzone, and Margaret Thatcher’s role in the popularity of soft-serve ice-cream – all funny and stimulating stuff.
The audience question segment has something of a group-therapy flavour, which speaks to how Blindboy’s vulnerability as a communicator encourages others to open up.
Yet one is left thinking about notes across structure, production, and direction.
There is a charm to the lo-fi setup.
But Blindboy’s talent is already brimming, and so elevating it all just a touch beyond the gentle and casual would go a long way.

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