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The Walworth Farce

Enda Walsh
Druid
RNT Cottesloe
(2008)

Production photo

The world Enda Walsh paints is extreme and the characters that inhabit it even more so. Initially you may look at such a depiction and think it a complete exaggeration but then you turn on the news and you see it all over again.

The Walworth Farce wrenches you into the theatrical world of Dinny (Denis Conway) and his two sons Sean (Tadhg Murphy) and Blake (Garrett Lombard). For over ten years these three men have been recreating the same event, the day they left Cork for London, every single day in their small, dirty flat on the Walworth Road. Every minute is dedicated to re-imagining each moment from that day all those years ago and in doing so they have completely lost touch with reality.

Dinny has turned his sons into willing prisoners, petrified of the outside world. Only Sean leaves the house each day to go to Tesco to buy the necessary food and props for their performance but he always returns, too fearful to explore any further. However it is on the day that we witness this terrifyingly funny production of theirs that the outside world finds a way in with horrific consequences.

The flat is disgusting. Yellow walls, peeling wallpaper, greasy cupboards and filthy floors are the stage on which these men perform their tale. The performances of Conway, Murphy and Lombard are all exceptional as the three men dart about the stage reinacting various roles, switching wigs and accessories and holding a coat in one hand and a hat in another to illustrate other characters. Conway as Dinny is both the perpetrator and victim. His anguish is simultaneously hilarious and painful to watch as his desire to love and protect these boys smothers and destroys them. Murphy as Sean is incredibly endearing with his big dopey eyes and ridiculous haircut, as is Lombard with his powerful performance as the confused and frustrated Blake. Their naivety is touching and heartbreaking, making you burst out laughing one minute and be close to tears the next.

This completely insane scenario that has become normality to these men is yanked right out of its comfort zone with the arrival of Hayley played by the utterly adorable Mercy Ojelade; her non-stop chatter initially making her unaware of what she has entered into.

Walsh takes comedy to the edge and then leaps right off. His portrayal of the normally unseen aspects of society is unnervingly funny and extremely poignant. He pulls back the curtain on family domesticity revealing that life is not always like the Waltons.

Reviewer: Rachel Sheridan