By David Walters

If you are familiar with the quirky off-kilterness of Miranda July, whether it be in her artwork, her films, spoken word, performance art, writing, or acting, you’ll have a sense of what you’re walking into in The First Bad Man presented by the Irish group Pan Pan now performing through January 13 in a rehearsal room on the seventh floor of the Rose building at Lincoln Center as part of the Under the Radar series.

The Pan Pan book club has been meeting to discuss the book The First Bad Man by Miranda July and, like the song It’s a Small World (that I just subtly implanted in your head), they can’t get it out of their psyches to be able to move on to something else. In order to purge themselves from the characters living inside them that they’re starting to see in the people they come across in their daily lives, they decide to act it out to the very end and they will then be finally cleansed to move on both with the book group and with their lives. The book club members then take on the roles that they most self-identify with and take us through the book adapting the tone and inflections, what I call Mirandaisms, throughout the whole piece. What develops is a sympathetic and strangely layered closeness for both the book club member and the characters in Ms. July’s book that they embody.

In a lonely and untrustworthy world, everyone is searching for a safe place to attach themselves to whether real or self-constructed.  As the character in the book, Kitty, says, “As long as I maintain my own narrative, I can be in this moment forever.”

What I feel Pan Pan has accomplished in their work, is a haunting. Like the book club characters and their reaction to the book, this production will stay with you as your mind works out the complexities of the safety and dangers of human relationships depicted in Miranda’s novel.


When you get tickets you will be sent an electronic copy of the book The First Bad Man that you are encouraged to read prior to the start of the book club meeting you’ve chosen to attend.

The First Bad Man was re-developed with the support of the National Theatre’s Generate program and was created by Mish Grigor and Gavin Quinn with Aedín Cosgrove, Luka Costello, Clare Howe, Sonya Kelly, Simon Kenny, Grace Morgan, Katherine O’Malley and Dylan Tighe.

Directed by Gavin Quinn, Designed by Aedín Cosgrove, Music by Simon Kenny, Movement Director: Katherine O’Malley, Assistant Director: Grace Morgan, Produced by Emma Coen.

It is performed by Mish Grigor, Faith Jones, Chris Manley, and Grace Morgan.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Presented in collaboration with Under the Radar, Mark Russell, Festival Director & ArKtype, Festival Producer. More information at


If this review piqued your interest, you might also be piqued by one of the following reviews: South, for all the women who thought they were Mad, and Passage.