Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"The Walworth Farce" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Druid Theatre's production of Enda Walsh's "The Walworth Farce" was another award winner, and we'd heard good things. So despite it meaning an 11a.m. start on a Saturday we dragged ourselves out of bed and along to The Traverse. Even with its early start it was a sell out, so we settled down to be entertained.

Staged in a grubby rundown flat in the London borough of the title, the impressive set made me want to break out the marigolds. The tale of Dinny (Denis Conway) and his two young adult sons, Blake (Garrett Lombard) and Sean (Tadhg Murphy), starts somewhat confusingly until you realise you're seeing a play within a play. The daily routine of this dysfunctional family is to re-enact the events that led them to leave their idolised (idealised?) Cork City and 'settle' in the hustle and bustle of London.

Living in the shadow of their agoraphobic and paranoid father, Blake and Sean both take reassurance in their routine. However Sean in particular is starting to wonder if a better life might be awaiting him outside the flat, a realisation helped by his daily trips to Tesco to purchase the needed food for their play.

Despite the strong performances of the cast, especially Lombard in his multiple female roles I found myself wondering where exactly where we were going. People around me were laughing at what appeared to be the right places, whilst I sat barely smiling. The performances alone were struggling to hold my interest. Fortunately the arrival of Hayley (Natalie Best), the checkout girl from Tesco, just before the break brought a much needed lift.

The glimpses of the darker side to Dinny that we'd seen in the first act with his bullying and dictatorial treatment of his sons comes to fruition after the break. Rather than the polished and performed tale of the last day in Cork that's unfolding within their re-enactment, Sean finds the courage to confront his father with his true memories of that day. The brutality that his father, with Blake's help, inflicts on Hayley being the final catalyst. It's also a scene between Dinny and Hayley that results in the strongest audience reaction.

The ending is suitability dramatic, and tragic as befitting the farce in the title. However I was left feeling a little let down by it all - it just didn't work for me. Perhaps I need a little more sophistication with my farce. However I wholeheartedly agree about Ryvita.