Hughie (2 stars)

This article is from 2019


Disappointingly unengaging short

The Comedians Theatre Company have become a popular fixture at the Fringe, but this production of a late – and rarely performed – script by Eugene O'Neill is a dull and brief two-hander that fails to make a case for its existence. Mike McShane is solid as the stoic night-manager, Phil Nichol struggles to bring his fast-talking hustler to life, and the mundane dramaturgy adds little beyond a rapid-fire delivery and a ponderous sense of meanings hidden beneath the flow of anecdote and wise-guy rhetoric.

Nicholl's character Eerie is the problem: a small-time gambler, he comes across as a self-aggrandising bore. For all of this nostalgia and genuine warmth towards Hughie, the now deceased night-manager, he simply won't go to bed and insists on regaling McShane's character – another Hughie – with his petty tales of the streets.

Intended as part of a series of bijoux character pieces by O'Neill, it is a strangely static script that is not rescued by the direction or the performances. McShane offers a strong portrayal of a man bored by Eerie, until he reveals his romantic streak, in a fascination with the world Eerie presumes to move around: Nicholl never quite lifts Eerie above his tedious self-obsessions.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 26 Aug, 1.45pm, £13.50.


  • 2 stars

Gilded Balloon, Comedians Theatre Company and Marshall Cordell present… Comedians Theatre Company presents this rare one-act play which illustrates how our lives are shaped by the people we meet. Originally produced on Broadway, revived to sellout houses in 1996 starring Al Pacino, Hughie was one of Eugene O'Neill's last…