Saturday, June 16, 2007

Tom Crean: Antarctic Explorer

Daisy and I went to see Tom Crean: Antarctic Explorer in the Olympia last night. I'd caught the impressive one man show last year in Andrew's Lane Theatre, and even though I think it suits a smaller theatre like The Gate I was again completely caught up in the show. Written and performed by Aidan Dooley, he recounts Tom Crean's experiences at the Antarctic with great charisma.

Tom Crean was an Irish Antarctic explorer who took part in three major British expeditions to Antarctica. Two were led by Scott, the third by Shackleton. When he returned home to Kerry he put his medals away and never spoke of his experiences again. This and the fact that he never kept a diary meant that his name and contributions to history is hardly known outside of Ireland, but this play is going towards changing this.

Using diaries of other explorers that travelled with Crean, his letters to family and other historical documents, Aidan Dooley presents a charming and funny show. His down to earth conversation is very enjoyable, but when he describes the physical and mental challenges the explorers endured, sometimes in the face of great adversary, I was amazed by their achievements.

Tom Crean was known by his compatriots as being witty, optimistic and modest, and all these qualities shine through in Dooley's writing and performance. He had us in the palm of his hand last night, laughing and gasping as he talked. The one week run at the Olympia is finishing tonight, but he is moving on to other parts of Ireland and then New York and I would be surprised if he doesn't return to Dublin soon.


Anna said...

Interesting - resurrecting the historical & forgotten on the stage is always fascinating - would like to see this - though NY is a bit far . . .

hellojed said...

Yeah, NY is a hike and a half! He does do tours of the States though, so hopefully he'll be in your neck of the woods soon.