Friday, September 22, 2006

REVIEW: An Evening With Prionsias O'Ferfaille (Bewley's Cafe Theatre, Dublin)

They grow up so fast, don't they? It seems like only a few months ago that Prionsias O'Ferfaille was the comic MC of the Volta cabaret club, introducing comic sketches on video and traipsing around various Dublin venues under a cloud of purple melancholia. Now O'Ferfaille (the comic creation of David Crann and Liam Hourican, who also plays the character) has a show of his own. And indeed, a show-within-a-show of his own.

O'Ferfaille, a failed luvvie of the most desperate kind, is in rehearsals for his latest contribution to the Dublin Fringe. But his script is a bit ragged and his cast a mixed bag of hopelessness -- wraiths from the history of Irish theatre and modern day horses’ arses of various kinds. Worse still, the harpy from the Fringe Office is threatening to pull the show altogether. And, Prionsias himself, never the sturdiest soul, is being pursued by the nightmare of his past, which threatens to drive him the rest of the way around the bend.

In this extended form, Prionsias (abetted by a cast as various as a box of liquorice allsorts) can gather a little speed for his assaults on the Republic of dunces that has wilfully denied him his proper place, as well as Fringy self-indulgence, which he accidentally exemplifies.

Prionsias is hardly the first to set his satirical sights on bad theatre, self-indulgence and comical impenetrability. But Hourican and company blend bile, wit and a little warm-heartedness in just about the right proportion. The result, something equally attractive and unlikely: a painfully shambolic evening of theatre, delivered via a hilarious evening of theatre. A bit of craic, as Prionsias might put it.


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