Reviews are coming in for Nicky Allpress’ revival of The Walworth Farce at Southwark Playhouse Elephant in London.
Southwark Playhouse Elephant is a brand new theatre venue in Elephant & Castle in South London that opened in January 2023, and is sister venue to Southwark Playhouse Borough.
Directed by Nicky Allpress and written by Enda Walsh, The Walworth Farce stars actor and comedian Dan Skinner, best known for his character ‘Angelos Epithemiou’ (Shooting Stars and various TV comedy shows); Emmet Byrne who’s theatre credits include The Long Christmas Dinner (Abbey Theatre), NW Trilogy (Kiln Theatre), Blood Wedding (Wiltshire Creative) and Cell Mates (Hampstead Theatre); Killian Coyle whose theatre credits include All That We Found Here (The New Theatre, Dublin), The Boys, Young Skings (Reality Check Productions); and, Rachelle Diedericks, whose theatre credits include The Crucible, Our Generation (National Theatre), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre), The Band (Theatre Royal Haymarket, UK Tour) and Cymbeline (LIPA).
Set in a council flat on the Walworth Road in South London, The Walworth Farce is about fifty-year-old Dinny, exiled from his native city Cork, who lives with his two sons Blake (twenty-five) and Sean (twenty-four). Every day they perform a bizarre ritual which sees The Walworth Farce fracture into a play-within-a-play which depicts, in garbled form, their last day in Ireland. The play explores the psychological impact of exile and dependency on a mythologised version of the past – themes that recur frequently in Walsh’s work.
The play was first performed in Galway, Cork and Dublin in 2006 it was revived at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh in 2007 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it won a Fringe First award. The play received its London premiere at the National Theatre in September 2008.
The Walworth Farce is playing at the Southwark Playhouse Elephant until 18 March 2023.
Check out reviews including The Guardian and The Times. More reviews to follow.
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The Walworth Farce reviews
"Tyranny and fantasy at the Elephant and Castle"
"There is comical swagger and escalating threat but Nicky Allpress’s revival of Enda Walsh’s play is strongest in its fragile moments"
"It offers a grim vision of Elephant and Castle’s “grey and muck” and hardly celebrates the art of theatre itself as Walsh’s characters hopelessly stage a play within a play, caught in a cycle of tyranny and fantasy."
"On one level, it’s a backstage lark about a play that goes wrong"
"While there are giddy costume changes and Skinner has comical swagger, the slapstick seldom reaches fever pitch nor carries enough underlying terror."
"The second act feels too long but Allpress delivers a shattering climax that perfects the tone of adrenalised desolation, helping Walsh’s nightmare of myth-making hit home."
"A funny but cryptic family tragicomedy"
"The super-local south London setting makes reviving Enda Walsh’s 2006 play an obvious choice for the first big production at this new outpost for the enterprising Southwark Playhouse. There is little else, however, that is obvious about Walsh’s sad, manic, knowingly unlikely but committedly theatrical set-up."
"Nicky Allpress’s production is a superb rendition of a play that’s demanding for the players and for the audience too."
"Emmet Byrne and Killian Coyle are exceptional, too, as his sons, Sean and Blake. If the conceit is larger than life, the playing is utterly lifelike when needed, overstated in the manner of an Orton or a Synge play when that’s what Dinny’s farcical drama demands."
"Here there are genuinely funny, genuinely unsettling moments. Without a great sense of progress all this jagged poeticism can both impress and deaden."
"The new Southwark Playhouse Elephant theatre opens with terrific revival of Enda Walsh’s twisted classic"
"Like a lot of Walsh’s work, this play drops you into its characters’ uncanny, insular world and you have to pick up their rules and rituals as you go along."
'Dinny – played with tyrannical ego and bristling menace by actor and comedian Skinner – is director and star performer of his own self-serving tale. Walsh gradually blurs the overblown, escalating nature of farce with bluntly violent examples of Dinny’s intimidation of his damaged, infantilised sons. The play’s black humour only twists and yawns into darker depths. Our realisation that they have enacted the same play every day, for years, lends every ‘laugh’ a feverish awfulness."
"Director Nicky Allpress skilfully accelerates the pacing of the production as Dinny’s plans unravel, matching the breathlessness of farce"
"Dark, absurdist comedy"
"Committed performances carry this bleak revival of Enda Walsh’s dark farce"
"Enda Walsh’s dark, absurdist comedy grapples with the complexities of storytelling, both in the power of stories to make sense of a frightening world, and in the dangers of deluding ourselves with comforting narratives divorced from reality."
"Though there’s plenty of surreal humour built into Walsh’s brilliantly skewed script, Allpress never shies away from the nightmare unfolding under the surface: the brothers are visibly traumatised and tearfully exhausted by their never-ending rehearsals."
"There’s a fragile tenderness between the two brothers, played with great commitment by Emmet Byrne and Killian Coyle, who communicate in signs and whispers when they can find a moment out of Dinny’s earshot."