Howie the Rookie

Mark O’Rowe
Landmark Productions
The Pit, Barbican Centre

First staged as a two-hander, this new production of Howie the Rookie relies on the talents of just one man to play both parts, and he does so with clear ease.

As both Howie and Rookie Lee (no relation, just namesakes) Tom Vaughan-Lawlor commits to an energetic performance that is completely captivating.

Recounting escapades themed around drink, sex, fighting and family, this one-act play captures two hectic nights out, first Howie’s and then the Rookie’s.

Set on the mean streets of Dublin, the action moves rapidly from houses and pubs to bus stops and a SPAR shop but without the aid of scenery, sound effects, props or costume changes.

The imagery created in the script is beautiful, powerful and brutal but laced with humour and self-deprecating meta-theatricality. Writer and director Mark O’Rowe moves the story forward with fluid direction and the physicality created perfectly matches the verbal descriptions of the larger-than-life characters that populate the script.

This is an intense experience (in which audience members not familiar with Dublin slang will need to pay particular attention), which unwinds and unravels in a way that is impossible to foresee. It is clichéd to describe the narrative as a journey, but in this case the two tales documented are just that.

A glimpse into a different world, Howie the Rookie is a challenging and ultimately moving piece.

Reviewer: Amy Yorston