Written & Performed by Mikel Murfi
This piece was originally comissioned by The Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo with the Sligo County Council Arts Service and involved ther performer Mikel Murfi spending time with local people in the area he grew up in and hearing their stories.
He then went off and fused all these scraps and nuggets of gold into a one man show which is part character comedy, part clown and part dramatic monologue somehow squeezed into a thoroughly engaging one man show.
Mikel is a dazzling mime and a virtuoso performer; revealing the subtletey of his character’s innermost thoughts, painting a vivid landscape or bringing larger than life characters to life. He’s a sort of theatrical Dick Van Dyke; a one man band of the heart and imagination.
He brings us into the life and mind of a cobbler, who is on a mission to bring a pair of shoes to the woman who is coach to the local football team. Only in order to have them ready to wear, so she can run up and down the sidelines, he must break them in first. So he walks the five miles into down in this woman’s shoes and as he does he speaks of the landscape and the people of the landscape and the stories. The characters he meets along the way and their stories evoke a rich and intricate rural life and one full of intrigue. Mikel’s performance of these characters is both sincere, studied and at times hilarious.
The rich tapestry of this play reflects the source material and Mikel’s own personal connection to the landscape and it’s communities. By his own admission it is a sentimental work and reflects the depth to which people are comfortable in themselves to go to. There are no dark underbellies exposed and no longing secrets revealed. The play was made to be perfomed for the people who provided the source material and in that sense Mikel has been considerate of his audience but also maintained an integrity which flows out to any audience. There is nostalgia in it but that’s tempered with the self reflection and honesty of people who wish to get the story straight.
The central character is a wonderful person to see this community through and how his personal mission delivers somethign he never knew he always wanted is a deserved gift for all his hard work.
The Man in the Woman’s Shoes is both solid and ephemeral. It is grounded in Murfi’s technique and it is elevated by a loving connection to the subject.
© John Fitzpatrick 2016
Photo Mark Doeut