Wednesday, July 09, 1997

REVIEW: From Both Hips (Project at the Mint, Dublin)

Mark O'Rowe has a taste for blood. Whether as a means of adding intensity to his narratives, or simply establishing his hard-boiled Dublin milieu, the young playwright is quick to reach for the deadly weapon, to deal the brutal blow and then watch the consequences unfold as they will.

For Paul (Ger Carey), the man at the centre of O'Rowe's From Both Hips (Project at the Mint, Dublin), the consequences have been severe. He has accidentally been shot by Willy (Sean Rocks), a far too green recruit to the drugs squad, in a botched raid, and now returns home to a life that may not, it appears, have been perfect even before the incident that crippled him.

Like Harold Pinter, one of his obvious godfathers, O'Rowe likes to confuse his audience's easy notions of location and milieu, luring them in with suggestions of working-class Dublin, and then slamming and bolting the door behind them with self-consciously theatrical patterns of dialogue and plot.

From Both Hips has ambition, but is short on perseverance. Although it is peppered with enough wriggling absurdity and pointed comedy to intrigue, the play, in a rather curt production from Jim Culleton, loses its way. Tight narrative criss-crosses, fuzzy nuances and surreal details give way to a chest-beating contest with rules as dense as a samurai ritual.

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