Actor and writer Pat Kinevane is returning to Australia as a part of APA’s Irish Showcase Collective to celebrate the 2016 Ireland Centenary.
Playing at the German Club for the duration of Adelaide Fringe Festival, Pat’s latest one man show Underneath, is the third in an unintentional trio of plays.
“This is the third in an accidental trilogy,” Pat says. “The first show, Forgotten, was on the road ten years. The second show, Silent, was on the road five years but this one is only on the road a year. It was kind of festering away in my head for a while. I really wanted to talk about the issues in it. The central character is a woman and she’s almost 50 years of age, like myself. She is quite masculine, like myself. So I play her.
“She has a lot of issues with going outside of her home because she is judged. She is disfigured from an accident and, it’s an exploration of something we have in common all over the world, which is that some cultures put a huge emphasis on looks. I was really interested in that and how we are perceived, how it affects our lives and how difficult it is for some people who aren’t traditional and who don’t look ‘beautiful’.
“I wanted to challenge that: the pressure around women and men to look a particular way. It’s something that’s always fascinated me. I delved into it and it took me by surprise what came out of it. That’s why it’s called Underneath. I really wanted to get under the skin of the audience and challenge people to wonder why we judge people just because of their face.”
Touring with two other Irish plays, Beowulf: Blockbuster and Little Thing, Big Thing, Pat says he’s thrilled to have been included in the trio representing their country.
“The other shows are wonderful and amazing. They’re top notch actors and top notch productions. I really respect them. They’re utterly unique in the writing and presentation. It’s really exciting from an Irish point of view, it’s a huge year for us,” he says.
“It’s the centenary of Irish independence and, despite what has happened in the past ten years with the economic downturn and depression, it’s an honour to be part of an export of culture and art, because I still think, for such a small country, there’s so many wonderful musicians and artists that have yet to be discovered.”
And he’s not only excited to be a part of this cultural export; he’s also thrilled to be back in Australia and performing in his first Adelaide Fringe Festival.
“I first went to Australia in 1992 and I toured with an Abbey National Theatre production of Dancing at Lughnasa which is a Brian Friel play and was, at the time, a really successful play on Broadway and in the West End in London. We were the Australian cast and we spent time in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. I came back with some Beckett plays, and again in 2013 with my own show, Silent. I’ve had a good couple of journeys there and I love it,” he says.
“I’ve always heard of Adelaide Fringe festival and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it. I also just want to go back there after 23 years! I want to see the city again. I loved it the first time. I had friends in Oakbank so I loved getting out of the city as well; it’s a beautiful, beautiful place. I’m also looking forward to working hard because it’s a huge festival, a world famous festival and I’m honoured to be there.”
Underneath focuses around the idea that beauty is dangerous and desperately sought after, but perhaps beauty hides the ugliness as well.
“It’s extraordinary; you’d think people would have moved on or evolved in a far more mature way as a species, or understood that nature and the heart are much more important than an accidental exterior. Unfortunately, men still fall for the charms of a beautiful woman and vice versa. It’s destroyed kings and business men and women,” Pat says.
“I ask myself, will it ever be solved? Is beauty, as well as being incredibly exciting to behold, is it a dangerous thing? Can being too beautiful stop you in life? Can it be a disadvantage? But there is definitely more pressure than there ever been. I remember when I was growing up, a six pack was tinnies. Now all the young men, even in Ireland, have pressure to look a certain way. That concerns me because, I think the soul is not explored. Celebrity culture seems more concerned whether a woman is carrying an extra three pounds.”
The darkly comic and deeply rich narrative of the story is based on things Pat is passionate about, and is commentary on certain problems he sees back home in Ireland
“The character in this is ultimately polarised and isolated because of her looks, and I’m interested in topics about people who are marginalised. My first piece was about marginalising old people and my second about marginalising homeless people. This is about marginalising people who don’t look the way we want them to look,” he says.
“It’s funny because I thought the first two pieces would be obsolete in Ireland now, but they’re more relevant than ever. There’s a huge problem with the care of the elderly and a huge crisis with homeless. We’re being told economically we’re recovering and turning a corner, but there’s so many people who can’t afford to pay their rent so I see the issues Underneath as a kind of infection. It’s a disease, this constant quest for perfection.”
Pat Kinevane’s Underneath is playing at The German Club from February 23 until March 13 and you can book through Fringetix.
By Libby Parker
Libby Parker is a journalist, teacher and life enthusiast.
You can follow her on Twitter at @upsidenews_lib