Mankind still has a delicate ear

A reminder of why the arts matter, and never more than in these difficult times. The Gigli Concert, produced by Druid, written by Tom Murphy, just recently at Cork’s Everyman Palace, now onto Galway.

Once, during an interview, Tom Murphy was asked what his plays were about. He responded that they were all, in a sense, about his life. And, in a sense, they are about all of our lives. This is why they have meaning for people.

The Gigli Concert is a multi-layered, epic piece of work, and not necessarily an easy play. But it is an exhilarating experience, primarily because of the humanity at its core. Like Beckett, Murphy has seen the dark side of life. Like Beckett he has grappled with its fundamental meaninglessness. And, like Beckett, he has come to the conclusion that one of the few things we can do to counter this is to be kind to one another, to take care of each other.

The Gigli Concert is, among many things, about the connection made between two lost, vulnerable souls: the Irish builder unable to look himself in the mirror after years of cheating and backhanding his way to materialistic success and the hapless English dynamatologist (the man who believes anything is possible) adrift in a foreign land, yearning hopelessly after unrequited love. That these imperfect beings, who remain as flawed at the end as at the beginning, are nonetheless allowed to attain a kind of grace – something that the crudely-spoken but heroic Mona (the play’s third character) also has within her – is testament to Murphy’s warmth and sympathy for ordinary human beings. Murphy urges us to care about these people, or at least to wish them well. This is important, particularly in an age when popular television, and the commercial media, so often encourages us to mock and slight others, with Mr Nastys such as Simon Cowell elevated because of their ability to cut strips off people.

Of all the wonderful lines in Gigli – and there are many – my favourite is the last. Preparing to step out into the unknown, dynamatologist Jimmy proclaims to the now absent Irishman: “Do not mind the pigsty Benimillo, mankind still has a delicate ear…that’s it…that’s it…sing on forever….that’s it.”