As a teenager at the height of the Celtic Tiger era I binge read the Ross O'Carroll series, probably missing much of the satire. As I got older I stopped rushing out to buy each new book and, aside from occasionally skimming the weekly column, I lost all contact with the character. Going to see Ross's latest stage outing, Postcards from the Ledge, felt like a reunion old friend but unfortunately it wasn't an entirely happy occasion.
Postcards from The Ledge is set in 2029, and we meet 49 year old Ross standing outside his now rundown childhood home in Sallynoggin. It's the morning of his daughter's wedding but due to an incident of his own making he's been uninvited. Although Ross is older, he hasn't changed all that much.
We get the same jokes about rugby, the Northside and womanising that the character is known for, but after twenty years of Ross that material feels stale. As in the books, Ross makes his living as a sleazy estate agent, selling over priced homes to unsuspecting buyers. When this storyline was first introduced, it was 2003 and Ireland was in the middle of its property boom. Now, with the housing and homelessness crisis ongoing, it felt uncomfortable. As did the throwaway line about South side girls not eating.
Things picked up in the second act, when the story is given more focus and a greater sense of urgency. The best moments of the play come when things get a bit more serious. The jokes are dialled back and Ross finally deals with emotion of giving his daughter away. This felt more relatable than old stereotypes, and allowed the character to show some depth and growth.
While some of the material fell flat, Rory Nolan still deserves full credit for his performance as Ross. He's on his own on the stage for the two hour running time but managed to keep the audience engaged and juggled the mix of drama and comedy really well. While it didn't work for me, he had many in the audience roaring with laughter.
Perhaps the show will work better for those who have never read the books, but for me it was far too much of the same.
Postcards from the Ledge runs in The Gaiety Theatre until November 11th. Tickets available from ticketmaster.ie