Full disclosure. John Patrick Higgins is my friend. We grew up in the same area. We spent many, too many, nights in the pub together. I went to his wedding. I hadn't seen him for over four years but I was certainly looking forward to reacquainting myself with him when I attended the second night of his Every Day I Wake Up Hopeful at the Leicester Square Theatre last night.
So I may not be entirely impartial. But I'll certainly try. I was never gonna write a puff piece but I was worried that if it was shit I'd be in an awkward place. But what if it wasn't just good but great. Then I'd be jealous of the bastard and not for the first time either. The git's even looking handsome, in an elder statesman kind of way, these days. See below for evidence. Of sorts.
He made a very wise decision in getting Irish stand-up Christian Talbot to deliver his words. Christian may've tripped up over a few of them but, that aside, his delivery was as on point as anyone could've hoped for. He effortlessly embodied John's, and my, and many of ours, mixture of despair and eternal, often unfounded, positivity.
Almost every twist of the monologue sought both to solve, and dissolve, the duality of our very human condition. That of being part of the human race and yet, somehow, always feeling apart from it. I laughed. I nearly cried. I heard echoes of many of my friends in John's words and Christian's delivery. In fact I looked around the room and saw those very same friends sat there undoubtedly feeling the very same thing.
So it works if you know the author and you warm to the actor. But would it work if you didn't? My friends Pam and Kathy came along. They don't know John from Adam but they both told me they'd been impressed. Even mentioning they'd paid big bucks to see major West End shows that hadn't had half the impact this did.
Impact it certainly had. Like anything it took me a few minutes to warm to the theme. But when Christian started pouring the wine out and pouring out his memories and heart I felt like I was in a room with a troubled, but engaging, friend. Fuck it. I WAS in a room with a troubled, but engaging, friend. Meditations on suicide, cancer, and alcoholism struck notes so close to home I nearly rang my mum. If I couldn't identify with eating chicken nuggets or hating football I could very much identify with the all too human condition, the mix of clarity and utter bewilderment at what life can become, that rang out throughout the entirety of the hour.
And it was humanity that rang out the loudest. Despite some pretty near the damned knuckle pontifications this was a dance with the devil that for every flirtation with the dark side always remembered that, in the words of dearly departed Leonard Cohen, 'there is a crack in everything that's how the light goes in'.
So, yeah, I was jealous of John but more than that I was proud of him. About 25 years ago I wrote a review of his band in which I described him as a 'rag doll Morrissey'. He's never let me forget that. So I'll bastardise one last Morrissey line for him. I love it when my friends become successful.