Tom Crean – Antarctic Explorer (FringeTIX)
Aidan Dooley @ Bakehouse Theatre
7:00pm, Sun 11 Mar 2007
Who said that the Fringe was all mindless entertainment? Well, my Dad for one, but he’s a grumpy old bugger who I’m hoping to emulate in later life. But let’s not get distracted from the job at hand here – which is to have a bit of a rave about this show.
Tom Crean is one of the early Antarctic explorers who, though participating in three of the first four British expeditions towards the South Pole with other well-worn names (such as Scott and Shackleton), and despite having been awarded the Albert Medal on the second of those expeditions, remained largely unknown by the public.
Aidan Dooley channels Crean in this self-penned show solo, opening with some gentle and humorous observations on the Antarctic exploration era. But the performance is pinned by tales from the second and third expeditions – the Endurance and Terra Nova. The former, a demonstration of perseverance and heroism; the latter, a real edge-of-your-seat thrill ride as the expedition escapes from one perilous situation after another. After catching your breath, Dooley returns us to the Antarctic, where we watch as he discovers Scott’s body buried in-camp… I don’t mind saying that I saw this bit through teary eyes.
That’s not to say this is a bleak work, though – Dooley injects humour in the most surprising of places, and manages to keep the story romping along – all whilst managing to impart the difficulties of the time and place, and even – yes! – teaching something of history! This is a really impressive piece of work that deserves a wide – and huge – audience.