Performed by Pat Kinevane, Fishamble’s Before is one of the most beautiful shows I’ve seen in a long time. Combining pain and humour with storytelling, dance and song to depict a single man’s fight for paternal rights, Before shows us true theatre craftmanship is still alive and well.
The story of a father who has not seen his daughter for seventeen years is not necessarily a story of a father who left. Fishamble’s Before is a story of a father who loves his daughter more than anything, and has spent his life hoping to see her again after he has been denied visitations by mother: the girl’s singular legal guardian. Presented at Dance Base, this is a heart-wrenching 90 minutes of physical theatre focusing on the day he’s finally able to see her again – shopping for the perfect gift in a department store that’s about to close for good.
An ongoing joke about the protagonist’s hatred for musicals is usually expressed exactly in that form: with jazz choreography. Although these numbers don’t always directly add to the story, they’re wonderfully funny – especially for audiences familiar with the wide range of musicals mentioned.
Before allows Pat Kinevane to really showcase his awardwinning skills for both writing and performance. It is an absolute joy to watch him, but due to his ability to portray – truly organically – a broken, imperfect yet hopeful father, it’s almost impossible to leave the auditorium feeling anything other than heart-broken. Lingering in your mind for hours later, Before makes a strong point about father’s rights and their humanity – and is strongly recommended.