Irish Mail on Sunday

26th January 2013


In Follow, Shane O’Reilly, the son of deaf parents, provides a unique insight into life as deaf people experience it, using a combination of ordinary language and Irish sign language (ISL) that makes it possible for deaf people to view the show without the need for an interpreter. O’Reilly performs alone, using words, gestures, and signs hat become a whole dictionary of creative movement. And yet there’s plenty of humour, with no attempt at softening the problem of deafness, nor any attempt to patronise or sentimentalise it. He introduces sign language with the words that go with it.

ISL is not the brisk finger movement that you normally associate with deaf people; the movements are more a sort of mime. People can be named by a kind of visual rhyming slang. The boy’s name is Ned, the sign for him is a head resting on his hands, signifying, bed rhyming with Ned. There’s a recurring sequence where he’s watching an underwater programme on television. The plight of a deaf boy desperate to go to the toilet, standing in a queue of over 40 others, is both touching and very funny. O’Reilly is accompanied by a keyboard and guitar player and sound and lighting effects that lend great atmosphere. A genuinely absorbing piece of theatre.