Fringe REVIEW: Passing On @Sweet Werks 1

Brian Butler May 22, 2018

This heart-rending and passionate play is about a gay couple who for once are not facing issues surrounding Aids. This tragic tale of a married gay couple in Ireland centres on their heartfelt wish to have a baby through a surrogate mother, their lawyer friend Jane.

BUT ironically in planning for the future a terrible past is uncovered for Tom, played by Steve Kenneally, and that past leads to the central theme of life, death, guilt, anger and overpowering grief.

This is not a show for the faint-hearted. But written sensitively and in very down to earth language by Sean Denyer, and staged by the Dublin-based award-winning LGBT theatre group Acting Out and Blue Heart Theatre, it investigates the ins and outs of gay parenting in a highly entertaining if dark mood.

In trying to find his biological parents, Tom discovers he has the  incurable Huntington’s disease , inherited from his now-dead mother.

The play’s interest is in the working out of this tragedy amid the joy of the birth of their son, and Brian, played by Brian Gaughran is a passionate foil to Tom’s fatalistic view of life.

The  play progresses in very short episodes which are occasionally out of time sequence and I wonder if the language couldn’t be heightened slightly to poeticise the tragedy and help us distance ourselves from it. As it is written it is a very difficult piece to sit through calmly and there were many tear-creating moments.

What carries the piece is the wonderful chemistry between the two main actors who go through every emotion possible in a highly believable and electrically charged performance.

Preparing ourselves for one tragedy, we are ultimately faced with an unexpected turn of events which I won’t reveal.

This is a very important piece of modern theatre, with the humanity of a loving relationship at its heart. It deserves to play to big audiences. Please go see it if you can.

Passing On is at Sweet Werks 1, in Middle Street until May 24.

To book tickets online, click here:

Reviewed by Brian Butler