Rum and Vodka, Uffda Productions, at Harlo’s Bar. Conor McPherson was barely out of his teens when he wrote Rum and Vodka, and it shows. Only a neophyte would find the protagonist–an irresponsible, self-pitying alcoholic family man in his early 20s who goes on a three-day bender–worthy of an entire play. More experienced writers tend to focus on the wreckage such men leave in their wake: the angry employers, betrayed lovers, and broken families.
This one-man play is nevertheless a work of remarkable ambition and technical skill. We care about McPherson’s protagonist (whose name we never learn) even as he makes one predictable mistake after another, drinking up the rent money, impulsively bedding a woman he meets in a bar, passing out in strangers’ homes. This script may not have the verbal complexity of McPherson’s later works (The Weir, This Lime Tree Bower), but you can hear in his prose the seeds of greatness.
One senses a similar potential in actor Jeremy Menekseoglu. No true Dubliner would be fooled by his Lucky Charms accent, but as directed by Sarah Mostad, Menekseoglu negotiates McPherson’s difficult text well, earning laughs when the script calls for them and tears when we’re asked to feel the protagonist’s pain.