RE­VIEW

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - & - KATY HAYES

Martin McDon­agh’s black com­edy opens with gravedig­ger Mick Dowd hav­ing a poitín ses­sion in his cot­tage with his neigh­bour Maryjohnny Raf­ferty. Young Mairtin joins them with a mes­sage from the priest: Mick is to start ex­hum­ing the bod­ies from the grave­yard. The grave­yard is full and the dead must be re­moved to make way for the new crop of buri­als. The cor­ner to be dug up this time is the place where Mick’s wife Oona was buried. She died in a car crash seven years ear­lier, with Mick drunk at the wheel. But there are whis­per­ings in the lo­cale that Oona was dead al­ready when the crash hap­pened, and that Mick killed her. This is the ten­sion at the core of the play: an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mick’s pos­si­ble guilt. Un­like po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions which are about fact, the­atri­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tions are about nu­ance, and the au­di­ence is left to make up their own mind.

McDon­agh writes in a stylised west-of-Ire­land id­iom, mar­ry­ing ba­nal­i­ties about the weather with a needling ag­gres­sion, as the characters land ver­bal blows on each other. Ten­sion builds un­til the blows be­come phys­i­cal. There are echoes of John M Synge’s The Play­boy of the West­ern World in young Mairtin’s be­ing im­pressed by Mick per­haps hav­ing slain his wife. There is Shake­speare in the skull-and-grave­yard scene. Quentin Tarantino’s in­flu­ence is felt in the black hu­mour spilling over into Grand Guig­nol.

FRNKNSTN

Pea­cock Theatre, Dublin un­til Sept 1

Michael West writ­ing for Theatre Lovett cre­ates this mod­ern mu­ta­tion of Mary Shel­ley’s Franken­stein, fea­tur­ing a gene­s­plic­ing molec­u­lar bi­ol­o­gist who cre­ates hu­man life from his own DNA. Di­rected by Muire­ann Ah­ern and per­formed by Louis Lovett. Ex­pect in­tel­li­gent life.

An­drew Flynn di­rects for Deca­dent Theatre Com­pany and Short Com­edy Theatre Com­pany. Flynn has as­sured in­stincts with the cheeky rhythms and tonal shifts of McDon­agh’s lines. Pat Shortt catches all the hu­mour of Mick, while Maria McDer­mot­troe brings a bit­ter bad­ness to Maryjohnny. Jar­lath Tiv­nan is hi­lar­i­ous as young Mairtin, si­mul­ta­ne­ously thick and smart; he will be par­tic­u­larly en­joyed by Leav­ing Cert stu­dents.

Owen MacCartháigh’s set de­sign is su­perb; the cot­tage of the open­ing scene, with the vis­i­ble fault-lines in its walls, col­lapses to re­veal a hill­side grave­yard, giving the space tremen­dous dy­namism. Sinéad McKenna’s moody light­ing adds to the rich vi­su­als, cre­at­ing dra­matic sil­hou­ettes and gen­er­at­ing at­mos­phere. Carl Kennedy’s sound de­sign brings a sub­tly ex­ag­ger­ated el­e­ment of cin­e­matic ten­sion.

Fans of Shortt will rel­ish his gen­tle, seething in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Mick. And fans of McDon­agh will love the bloody ketchup of the fi­nal scenes. But while there are plenty of laughs and plot twists, there is, fi­nally, an empti­ness to the play. It forms part of the Leenane Tril­ogy from 1997, with The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Lone­some West. It was first pro­duced two decades ago, along with the other two plays in an all-day se­quence by Druid in Gal­way. Then, its comic ab­sur­dity was propped up by the more emo­tion­ally nu­anced plays. Stand­ing alone, its fun­da­men­tal hol­low­ness echoes louder.

I’M TOO FAT FOR

THIS SHOW

Smock Al­ley Boys’ School, Dublin, Au­gust 20 – 25

Amer­i­can writer-performer Kate Huff­man re­turns to Dublin with her one-woman show. It cov­ers her decades of OCD and eat­ing dis­or­ders, us­ing com­edy, mul­ti­me­dia and mul­ti­ple characters to ex­plore is­sues around the fe­male body. AN EVENING WITH MARIO ROSEN­STOCK Theatre Royal, Water­ford Au­gust 24 & 25

Rosen­stock re­turns to his home town for an evening of sketches fea­tur­ing his Gift Grub characters from To­day FM, in­clud­ing im­pres­sions of Leo, Miriam, Paschal and also lo­cal leg­ends like John Mul­lane and John Hal­li­gan.

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