Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Walworth Farce

The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh, performed by the Druid Theatre
Reviewed by Stella Wilkie
This horrifying, extraordinary piece formed, for me, a unique experience in my theatre-going life. I was appalled by the story but dazzled by the production and performance. Perhaps I should admit that, at my advanced years, I lean towards happy endings, which this play certainly did not have, but can still try to dip my toe in hidden terrors and admire the skills and insights that bubble up.
The play is set in a tiny apartment on the 15th floor of the Walworth Building (near Elephant and Castle – London). Here live Dinny the father of Sean and Blake. Since Dinny lost his job six years ago, he enforces a rigid life on himself and his two sons, wherein he plays out the journey from Ireland and the events leading to it. This ritual takes place every day; the only one to leave the house is Sean, when he is sent to Tesco’s for the ‘running props’, six cans of Harp, fifteen crackers with spreadable cheese, ten pink biscuit wafers and a cooked chicken (think of it, every day for the last six years). The sons act out all the other parts which include lightning changes into skirts, wigs (all tattier and smelly as time goes on), For me, this was the true horror rather than the Grand Guignol ending. The ritual is broken by the wrong bag of groceries being brought in and the later appearance of the Tesco cashier, a black girl.
Why do I admire it? Mainly for the skill and total reality evoked by the actors. Their movements sometimes reached a balletic accuracy, and I believed every minute. I feel I have been fed a banquet – even if it tasted nasty.