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David O’Doherty: Rory Sheridan

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

The Fringe is the place to try something different, and in this storytelling show, David O’Doherty has left his tiny electronic keyboard behind. Well, it is 1917, and he is a reluctant Antarctic pioneer. What he hasn’t left behind, though, is his keen sense of whimsical comedy.

The idea is this is a lecture, given on his return from a ludicrously ambitious expedition to ‘the Antarctica’, as he insists on calling it, in a bid to cover the costs. For it turns out the trip was not a great success, with the team getting stuck in ice for more than a year in ‘the loneliest garden shed with idiots and their farts’.

There’s not exactly a lot of characterisation here; little feeling that Sheridan is of a different time and place – or even a different person than the amiably bumbling O’Doherty himself. Indeed, one of the first bits of business is to rail against penguins and all their stupidity, a very funny segment which could almost have come out of his stand-up show.

This is, essentially, one long shaggy-dog story full of wit and incident – although it’s cats that feature the most, as the adventurers’ small ship, The Pelmet, gets overrun by the feline breeders.

After a few unlikely fatalities that befall various expedition leaders, O’Doherty’s ‘character’ Rory Sheridan becomes captain of the ill-fated trip, despite his inexperience. He only came along for the ride so he could win the hand of his beloved Kate Thinsulate, the thermal garment heiress, and now he has been landed with the responsibility of keeping his crew occupied while trapped in the arse end of the world.

The story runs out of impetus while they’re entombed in the ice, but O’Doherty’s charm sustains the interest built up in the first two-thirds of the show. He’s a descriptive writer, and many of the incidents en route produce satisfying chuckles, if very few belly-laughs. And the ending ties up the lecture in a gratifying and rather sweet way.

This won’t blow your thermal socks off; but it’s an engaging hour and a promising new direction for the modest king of Irish whimsy.

Review date: 21 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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