If you still haven't found what you're looking for, seek no further. In 90 minutes, Chasing Bono delivers an early evening shot of whimsical delight, with brilliant live music.
Based on “I was Bono's Doppelganger” by Neil McCormick, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais have concocted a gangster-muso-autobiography which has enough blarney to win over the hardest audience for the highly unlikely events in the story. The show traces the comparative success of McCormick and his school friend Bono as revealed after McCormick is kidnapped by a Dublin gangster, all wrapped in live performances of Neil and brother Ivan's long-lost songs. Director Gordon Anderson allows the story to flow swiftly using the songs to link sections as simple set changes allow multiple locations. The set is a brilliant character in itself. Max Dorey's design reveals itself gradually, subtly suggesting different places with great wit. This is beautifully enhanced by Christopher Nairne's lighting – precise and powerful.
Each performance is a treasure. Denis Conway as Danny Machin smoulders with benevolent threat, convincing, dangerous, yet very funny. His double act with Ciaran Dowd as Plugger is one of the evening's highlights. Dowd shows delicate intelligence with visual and verbal flair in presenting a character who does not have the highest IQ. I loved their retreat to the Costa del Crime.
Niall McNamee as McCormick is the character linking the different threads. He quietly builds from bewildered hostage to successful author encouraging us to discard disbelief and follow the craic. A lovely, balanced performance including fine singing. His brother Ivan by Donal Finn, is a joy. Physically and emotionally awkward, his frustration at not quite getting into U2 battles with his love and support for his brother. Some lovely musicianship too.
I wish the women had been developed a little further. Niamh Bracken as sister Stella transforms effortlessly from disparaging teen fan to older woman, convincingly showing us sibling love and rivalry. Farzana Dua Elahe as Gloria is alluring as she moves from casual acquaintance to wife. Shane O'Regan delivers a fine Bono. Just enough hints and touches to make him credible without overwrought impersonation.
The cast should unlock more laughs as they relax into the show. This inventive run around Dublin past and present is guaranteed to brighten your winter's evening.