THE WALWORTH FARCE Cottesloe
Much as I admired the speed and technical proficiency of the acting in Druid theatre company’s production of Enda Walsh’s black comedy, I just couldn’t warm to the relentlessly manic pace which rarely let up for over two hours.
But what fails to tickle one person’s funny bone works a treat on another’s – the lady seated in front of me clearly relished every frenetic moment of this violent farce with its shades of Orton and Synge, remarking to her companion at half time that surely it couldn’t be the interval already.
Set in the shabby, high-rise Elephant and Castle flat of Irish immigrant Dinny and his two sons, it takes us through the fictionalised scenario which he compels them to enact every day, reliving (with fanciful embellishments) the circumstances which forced him to flee his native Ireland and hide himself away imprisoned behind their locked front door. Sean (Tadhg Murphy), his head partially shaved to mimic the receding hairline of one of the characters he’s made to play, has at least managed to make some contact with the outside world – making a daily trip to Tesco to purchase the never-changing shopping involved in their daily ritual.
But this particular morning things don’t go according to plan when he mistakenly picks up the wrong plastic bag and returns without a chicken.
Denis Conway is superb as Dinny, controlling, apoplectic and secretly running scared from an awful truth, whilst Garrett Lombard’s damaged Blake (dressed up in women’s clothes and a succession of wigs) is equally disturbed and potentially dangerous, his naturally deep voice coming as a shock after the fluting high-pitched tones he adopts to play his own mother.
But it is left to Mercy Ojelade’s well intentioned Hayley (walking unsuspectingly into the distorted ceremony of their everyday lives and forced to participate in their grotesque game playing) to bring the only note of normality and a brief slowing of pace to this brutal, very Irish play which Mikel Murfi directs with an assured hand.
Louise Kingsley. Courtesy of This Is London.