What re­ally needs a trim is the NOISE!

Hair-rais­ing tales cut with laughs, loves and Elvis but...

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - MORE - MICHAEL MOFFATT

Split Ends Bew­leys un­til Sept 22 HHHHH

Giv­ing Elvis the last word was one of the bet­ter di­rec­to­rial ef­fects of Split Ends. At least his dic­tion was al­ways spot-on. When there’s no set to deaden the sound the Bew­ley’s stage can be slightly re­ver­ber­ant, and some un­der­ly­ing mu­sic in places didn’t help.

Lauren Larkin plays hair­dresser Amy, con­fi­dante for all the lo­cal woes, news and bitch­ing in tor­tu­ous de­tail: births, preg­nan­cies, hol­i­days, fam­ily jaunts and prob­lems, and First Com­mu­nions. Amy is plagued by talk and hints of preg­nan­cies ev­ery­where she looks and lis­tens, in­clud­ing from her mother, and it’s wear­ing her down.

Lauren Larkin goes through all the phys­i­cal and ver­bal hair­dress­ing tics, know­ing about in­di­vid­ual styles and tastes, as well as tak­ing on the roles of cus­tomers and mak­ing them dis­tinc­tive. Nat­ter­ing cus­tomers al­most in­evitably be­come repet­i­tive, but it’s a very en­joy­able per­for­mance, spoiled in places by the sound dis­tor­tion, es­pe­cially when she spoke too fast or didn’t project her whis­pers enough. By its na­ture, it’s a comic per­for­mance with a dra­matic el­e­ment to take it away from pure stand-up com­edy.

Writ­ten by co­me­dian PJ Gal­lagher and Una McKe­vitt, it’s not sur­pris­ing that Mad­house (Pea­cock, un­til Sept 22, HHH) with its nar­ra­tor sit­ting cen­tre stage be­hind a ta­ble most of the time, has the sound and feel of a stand-up co­me­dian in rapid-fire mode. It gen­er­ally works well, but it could do with some ruth­less edit­ing, es­pe­cially in the fi­nal sec­tion when it wan­ders into self-in­dul­gence ter­ri­tory and the main thrust of the show stalls as it changes gear.

Barry Kin­sella does a su­per job with the scat­ter-gun di­a­logue as the nar­ra­tor Bobby, who takes us into the mad­house of his child­hood home, where his mother houses hard-up men­tal cases who chain-smoke, walk around suf­fer­ing from para­noia, los­ing them­selves round town or see­ing things. His mother, from a fam­ily sub­ject to heart at­tacks, is a com­pul­sively self-driven com­pas­sion enthusiast, who spends a lot of her time telling Bobby to straighten him­self out, while she dis­trib­utes tablets to her lodger pa­tients in ar­bi­trary pro­fu­sion. Fa­ther is the ex­act op­po­site, a self-ab­sorbed loner who never walks if he can drive; and the gen­eral con­fu­sion leads to reg­u­lar al­ter­ca­tions with the neigh­bours.

Kather­ine Lynch has some good mo­ments as the mother, although she’s un­der­used, but quick-fire wacky tales of schizophren­ics pall af­ter a while. Bobby’s ac­count of ado­les­cent sex­u­al­ity and in­de­pen­dence just feel like add-ons to give the char­ac­ter some be­lated sub­stance, while the enig­matic non-ex­is­tent go­rilla has to wait a long time for his piece of the comic ac­tion.

‘Lauren Larkin goes through all the phys­i­cal and ver­bal hair­dress­ing tics’

IM­PRES­SIVE: Lauren Larkin in Split Ends

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