|Photo by Clare Hawley|
"Excellently well done", someone, I'm sure, says in some Shakespearean play. Someone else says, somewhere in Shakespeare, "As you like it".
THE WALWORTH FARCE is an Irish play of 2006, from Enda Walsh. His pedigree as a writer for the theatre and the screen is impeccable. We have seen some of the output in Sydney: DISCO PIGS (1997), NEW ELECTRIC BALLROOM (2008), PENELOPE, MISTERMAN and the musical ONCE, for instance. In fact, THE WALWORTH FARCE has had a previous outing in Sydney.
THE WALWORTH FARCE, concerns an Irish family, seeming refugees (exiles) from Cork, living on the fourteenth floor, in a high-rise, on Walworth Rd, at Elephant and Castle, London, in a decrepit flat enacting a self-written play that they perform endlessly with full costume and properties. The play may explain their flight from Ireland, their isolation in London.
Dinny, the dad, has many things to deal with, it seems. This play must be a comforting abreaction. Dinny (Laurence Coy) has imprisoned his two sons, Blake (Robin Goldsworthy) and Sean (Troy Harrison) in this London refuge. No-one leaves this space bar Sean to get supplies and fresh props for the play - chicken etc. Blake plays many parts including all the female roles, whilst Sean plays everyone else. Dinny plays narrator, principally. There is a trophy for the Best Actor sitting on a shelf. Dinny's script has a structure that seems to improvise to change, slightly, from go to go. This world of make-believe is disturbed, however, when Hayley (Rachel Alexander), a check-out chick from the local Tesco's, knocks on the door to deliver a bag of Sean's groceries that went astray. The real world intrudes. A crisis implodes, explodes all.
The demands that Mr Walsh makes on these actors is herculean and farcical in the extreme. Director, Kim Hardwick with meticulous care has managed this complicated scenario with superb élan and, I'm sure, with a great deal of 'agony'. This play is, on the page, a formidable challenge. and this production in inhabiting it is a marvel to see. Her Designer, Isabel Hudson, has, as well managed a visual concoction of staggering verisimilitude with an ingenious use of the KXT space, and it is lit with finesse by Martin Kinnane. The Sound Designed by Benjamin Freeman serves the plaintive atmospherics of this overheated world.
So I can say, "Excellently well done." Mr Coy, Goldsworthy, and Harrison give remarkable, intricate, concentrated performances. However, whether you get on board for the 'ride' of this play will be "As you like it." I could't. I didn't. You might. You may. I was in awe of the production but just did not connect to the play. It was a long two hours and Twenty minutes (with interval).
See for yourself.