Until You Hear That Bell @ Summerhall

A perfectly-paced story that lures like a harmless butterfly and stings like a calculating bee

Review by Caitlin A Kearney | 31 Aug 2018
  • Until You Hear That Bell

You’ll never be able to predict the intensity of the journey that Sean Mahoney is ready to take you on in Until You Hear That Bell. You won’t be able to anticipate it half as well as he sees a punch he needs to block before it’s even thrown. The drama in this story waits patiently before striking out of nowhere, and you’ll be stunned, wondering why you didn’t quite see it coming.

With a steady poetic voice and set around/within strictly timed boxing rounds, Mahoney documents a decade spent training to achieve glory in both the gym and a father’s eyes. He doesn’t alienate us from subject matter that might seem on the surface to be relatively niche for the majority, but instead draws us in close, speaking to us where we can all understand and easily but significantly relate. He's clearly a humble soul and likable from the moment he first appears on stage. Without any sort of to-do he uses his words to paint vivid images of Central London and Essex, setting the scene only insomuch as we need to see it to understand. He slips in and out of rhyming verse from time to time with an admirable style of unpretentious ease.

What this show amounts to is a piece of theatre crafted and articulated with the discipline and precision of an athlete, and with any sentimental fat that a work like this may be in danger of carrying trimmed clean off. It never pretends to be anything it’s not, and yet in that way it is so much more; sleekly amusing in its throwaways, always understating and never indulging, something with which so many Fringe comedies seem to struggle.

Mahoney is no less than captivating, both as a physical performer and verbally, as a story-teller – a credit to Summerhall’s 2018 Fringe programme.

Until You Hear That Bell, Summerhall, run ended

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