Part of the Irish Showcase at the German Club, Underneath is written and performed by Pat Kinevane, who has already performed the piece in Ireland, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in New York. After leaving Adelaide he’ll be heading off to perform it in Los Angeles and London (at the Soho Theatre no less!).
Underneath tells the story of the disturbing history of a recently-murdered Irish woman (played by Kinevane himself), who lived her life badly disfigured after she was struck by lightning at just nine years old.
Told in a series of flashbacks, both from the woman’s more recent life in Dublin and from her school years growing up in Cobh, County Cork, the story delves into the nature of what it is to be beautiful, not just on the outside, but ‘underneath’ the skin.
As the flashbacks are told, there are mentions and cameos of The Titanic, prostitutes from Eastern Europe, the Aldi supermarket chain, Celine Dion, Angelina Jolie, monsters, sexuality, gaelic football and foxes.
The story started out quite bizarrely and I wasn’t sure exactly where it was heading in the first 20-30 mins, but from this point in the story I applaud the skill of performer Pat Kinevane.
Portraying the murdered woman as a decomposing corpse a few days after her death, Kinevane is thoroughly engaging in his role and drew me in further as he went along, weaving both the recent and more distant flashbacks through the 90 mins until it reaches a climax that you could both see and not see coming.
What is also brilliant is the use of colour on the stage, or rather, the lack of it. The only colours used were black (a lot of it), gold, and white (which was used sparingly). This added to the atmosphere of the play and ensured the audience’s eyes were focused where the actor wanted them to look.
Beowulf: The Blockbuster and Underneath, along with the third show in the Irish Theatre Showcase, Little Thing, Big Thing are still playing at the German Club in the city for two more nights, until the end of the Adelaide Fringe Festival on Monday.
Reviewed by David Emms