But just try telling that to Ross, the ebulliently wisecracking young hooligan at the center of “A Midsummer Night’s Riot,” by Irish dramatist Rosemary Jenkinson. As winningly portrayed by Josh Sticklin in the Keegan Theatre’s world-premiere production of this one-actor play, directed by Abigail Isaac, Ross has far more energy than he knows what to do with: If he tried to stay indoors during a riot, he might combust, like one of the petrol bombs that are a weapon of choice for his disadvantaged Belfast peers.
…Ross maintains a running monologue whose verbal dynamism suggests that, should a golf career not work out, he might have a future at poetry slams. “It’s the absinthe of its era, the glass for the underclass, lash in and liquor up,” he crows, extolling his go-to brand of (presumably cheap) fortified wine. The experience of lobbing golf balls into an enemy crowd unleashes even more exhilaration. “And ping, it flies and it’s a real sky-hopper, a roof-bopper, a welter-belter helter-skelterer and bop-bop-pop-bop-bop, and me artillery men line ’em up, and I unload and unload,” he exults.
Sticklin gives such lines a wonderful melodiousness, while clearly exhibiting their connection to Ross’s personality. Lest we get too caught up in the buoyant world the character evokes with his slangy riffs, the production occasionally features Dan Deiter’s sobering projections of street violence, complete with masked toughs and fires. “Tourists come from all over to watch us; it’s our Olympics,” Ross jokes of the nightly riots. But of course, the situation is far bleaker than that.