The Walworth Farce (4 stars)

Monstrous baroque fairytale

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This article is from 2007.

Fringe audiences will be familiar by now with the dark gothic excesses of Enda Walsh’s language. Pieces like Disco Pigs and Bedbound over the last decade have employed his peculiar, violent lyricism to startling effect. There’s plenty of that in Walsh’s new play, too, but there’s more, at least in the sense that this piece employs the closest thing to a full scale, conventional set that we’ve seen him use in Edinburgh.
And what a set it is: Sabine Dargent’s bleak, half demolished, almost frighteningly decrepit high rise flat sets the atmosphere perfectly for what amounts to a kind of monstrous baroque fairy tale. In it, Dinny (Denis Conway), a brutal and implacable father to the timid, constantly anxious Sean (Tadhg Murphy) and the transvestite Blake (Garrett Lombard) forces his boys into a lengthy daily reenactment of the circumstances of their removal from Cork to London as children. This latter city, he assures them, is fraught with such supernatural dangers that only Sean is permitted to venture out to buy ingredients for precisely the same meal, served at the climax of their ‘play’, each day. We are left imagining the years that this ritual has been repeated before the arrival of Hayley (Natalie Best), an assistant from the local Tesco, who has formed a tentative attachment to Sean.

As the piece – suspended somehow in its humour between Beckett and Father Ted – winds up, playful violence turns to hideous abuse, and a power struggle ensues which throws up many questions about how we choose to represent the past to ourselves. Inherent to the piece seems to be a specific questioning of Irish family values, and the way in which we often look back at our own history through nostalgic eyes. Mikel Murfi’s production brings out some strong performances in a play which at first seduces, then terrifies with violence.

Traverse, 228 1404, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20), times vary, £16 (£5—£11).

This article is from 2007.

The Walworth Face

  • 4 stars

Monstrous baroque fairy tale. Mikel Murfi's production brings out some strong performances in a play which at first seduces, then terrifies with violence. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007'.

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