What really needs a trim is the NOISE!
Hair-raising tales cut with laughs, loves and Elvis but...
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