Anthony as his parents know him and Xnthony as his audiences know him grew up in Roscommon in rural Ireland in the only county in the country that voted against the legalising of gay marriage. He knew he had special powers that could make people disappear but by the age of 12, his powers were waning. Raised a Catholic, he eagerly anticipated his Confirmation, certain that the Holy Spirit would restore his gifts to their former strength. But instead of a magical transformation, the bullying doled out to young Anthony got worse. And people started asking if he was gay.
Now a performer, Xnthony reflects on how his parents, the family farm, his teachers, the bullying pupils and his experiences after moving to London have shaped him through a mix of spoken word and song. He has a gorgeous singing voice, whether delivering infectious disco anthems or soaring through (dramatically lit) ballads. And he’s a disarmingly engaging presence, cajoling us into rooting for him, just in case his story didn’t do the job itself.
Much of his tale is sadly far too predictable. He skips lightly over the pain, keeping the audience skipping along beside him. But there’s a jaw-dropping twist. (Pardon the cliché – my jaw did actually drop.) And this is what makes the show fascinating. Xnthony is seeking affirmation. The show documents his battle to establish his place in the world. But when it comes to the crunch, he can’t quite bring himself to leave London.
There’s loads that’s great about Confirmation. A captivating performer with bags of charisma, an audience who are instantly hooked, a poignant recognition that Xnthony’s life hasn’t always been so self-assured. To up the emotional punch – as it’s all swimming around under the ruffles and smoke machines – a closer examination of the crunch moment could oblige. But if Xnthony’s only looking for confirmation that the world’s a better place for having him in it, that is delivered in spades.