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THEATRE: 21 MARCH 2016

By JOHN ROZENTALS

Swansong, by Connor McDermottroe | Directed by Greg Carroll

Red Line Productions | Old Fitz Theatre (http://www.oldfitztheatre.com), Woolloomooloo, Sydney | Until 26 March

Swansong, the current late show at Old Fitz Theatre, might be a solo show but it clearly has two stars.

One is obviously Andre de Vanny, who plays the dysfunctional, extremely violent but lovable Occy Byrne and is on stage alone for the entirety of the show.

The other is his vocal coach Jenny Young, who has managed to turn the Melbourne-born actor into a dinky-di Irishman.

It really is hard to accept that de Vanny isn’t the real thing, so convincing and consistent is his delivery.

And director Greg Carroll plays a major role as well, seamlessly taking de Vanny through a roller coaster of scenes in which he counterpoints his mindless violence with gentle sensitivity and astute observations.

You probably wouldn’t like to run into Byrne any time and look at him the wrong way. You’d probably end up on the wrong end of a head butt or flurry of blows from the desperate loner from the west of Ireland, the son of a single mum and outcast from society’s mainstream.

But there are just as clearly moments when you’d love to sit at the bar with him and share a few jars over thoughtful conversation. You’d still want to be careful, though, about what you said and how you glanced. Consistency certainly isn’t Occi’s strong suit.

His time with a swan he calls Agnes and his memories of an ill-fated relationship with Mary are so tender that you wonder where the spite and violence suddenly appear from.

De Vanny is a genuine talent — a young actor with a huge future on the stage.

Do go to see Swansong. You will be impressed, shocked and totally captivated. Thumbs up.

Andre de Vanny.