Dublin Oldschool a gritty and fast-paced trip that engages, sometimes overwhelms

Listen carefully or else you’ll be lost — but only for a few moments because your brain will adjust and you’ll be drawn into a world that is, most likely, pretty foreign to you. You’ll find yourself going to raves, involved in drug busts, getting out of your mind on Ketamine — this is the world of Dublin Oldschool, and if you’re not careful you’ll miss the beauty, but not the harsh reality.

Impressively performed by Emmett Kirwan (writer) and Ian Lloyd Anderson, this “spoken-word odyssey” introduces you to drug and rave culture in Dublin through the eyes of Jason, a record store clerk by day, wannabe DJ by night, drug user whenever he’s able, and his brother Daniel, educated and once having potential, now living on the streets and alienated from his family. Through spoken word, rap and dance music the scene and energy are set: the brothers find each other by chance, but reconnect with intention.

Anderson is entirely believable as an addict who once had all doors open to him, while Kirwan’s portrayal of his younger brother, neck-deep in rave culture, is both engaging and clever. Kirwan and Anderson play off of each other so masterfully, jumping in and out of characters and delivery at such a rapid-fire pace that you are transported for the full 70 minutes of the show to a world that is slightly uncomfortable, but one that you’re not quite ready to leave when it ends.

Be warned, the cadence is quick, you may miss chunks of dialogue. There is slang, and profanity – lots of it – and it is delivered with the utmost finesse, often bringing humour and levity to the sometimes dark subject matter. It’s an invigorating, gritty whirlwind of words and emotions that engage and sometimes overwhelm. And, like a whirlwind, in the blink of an eye it’s over.

(Photo courtesy Ros Kavanagh.)

Dublin Oldschool runs at the Pumphouse Theatre until Friday as part of this year’s High Performance Rodeo.

Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has continued to bring event listings to Calgary through theYYSCENE and her event listings page, The Culture Cycle. Contact her at