Sin­is­ter peak be­hind closed doors

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER - JO LITSON

THE Wal­worth Farce by Ir­ish play­wright Enda Walsh throws us straight into a bizarre, daily rit­ual un­der­taken by three men — a bul­ly­ing Ir­ish father Dinny (Lau­rence Coy) and his dom­i­nated, grown-up sons Sean (Troy Har­ri­son) and Blake (Robin Goldswor­thy).

The play is set in a tiny, squalid apart­ment at the top of a tower block in Lon­don. The door is firmly bolted and the sons clearly have lit­tle idea about the out­side world, al­though Sean goes to the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket to buy the things needed for the tale.

Each day they re-en­act the story about why they came to Eng­land years ago, leav­ing their Mammy in Cork. Dinny plays him­self, Blake plays all the fe­male char­ac­ters, and Sean plays the men as they switch roles, swap­ping hideous cos­tumes with cheap wigs and fake mous­taches. They pop in and out of cup­boards for their var­i­ous en­trances, cart card­board coffins around, and serve bis­cuits and poi­soned chicken. Only this day, Sean didn’t bring home the bis­cuits and chicken.

It’s oddly funny at first, but it soon becomes clear that be­neath the naff ama­teur dra­mat­ics, there is some­thing more sin­is­ter at play. And then the cheer­ful Hay­ley (Rachel Alexan­der) who works at the su­per­mar­ket ar­rives with Sean’s shop­ping, and some­thing sud­denly twists.

In 2010, Ire­land’s Druid The­atre brought the play to the Roslyn Packer The­atre but it didn’t quite sink its hooks into the au­di­ence. But this pro­duc­tion by Workhorse The­atre Com­pany in as­so­ci­a­tion with bAKEHOUSE The­atre is grip­ping. The smaller space is ex­actly what the drama needs; it’s like you are in the claus­tro­pho­bic flat with them and you feel the dra­matic ten­sion build vis­cer­ally.

Kim Hard­wick di­rects a su­perb pro­duc­tion on a bril­liantly grotty set with vile car­pet, cheap fur­ni­ture and dirty cos­tum­ing, de­signed by Is­abel Hud­son. With light­ing by Martin Kin­nane, you can feel the filth ev­ery­where.

All the ac­tors are su­perb. Coy dom­i­nates as the bru­tal father, Goldswor­thy is a quiver of un­cer­tainty as Blake, Alexan­der in­tro­duces a fresh in­no­cence as Hay­ley, be­fore ter­ror sets in, and Har­ri­son takes us through an enor­mous range of emo­tions from de­fi­ance to fear as Sean with his shaved pate.

The Wal­worth Farce is all about the sto­ries we tell, and about how some peo­ple try to re­write his­tory — here taken to ex­tremes. It is ab­surd, men­ac­ing, dis­turb­ing, sad and, at the end, ter­ri­bly mov­ing. Rec­om­mended.

A scene from The Wal­worth Farce.

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