Friday, October 06, 2006

REVIEW: The Bonefire (Project Cube, Dublin)

A Little World of Our Own , the title Gary Mitchell gave to his play about a community of paramilitary-leaning Loyalists, could equally be applied to Rosemarie Jenkinson's brutal comedy, which features another self-sufficient group of Lagansiders with a nasty predilection towards violent solutions.

Agoraphobic clean-freak, Leanne (Andrea Irvine) and her coke-sniffing, baseball-bat wielding brother, Tommy (Joe Rea) live high up in a block of flats affording fine views of the rabble of Taigs across the river waving their hurleys, as well as of the ever-growing bonny with which the locals are preparing to celebrate "the Twelfth".

They live in a world in which the ubiquity of violence and death has turned black into white, and insanity into everyday behaviour – that is just as long as it can be justified by some Loyalist objective. Like the wee lad who murdered a protestant girl: well, at least he thought she was a catholic. And thank god Dad had the foresight to disguise his suicide as a sectarian killing.

Onto this deranged shore arrives a fresh-faced stranger, whose homicidal credentials seem impeccable. But something about Davey (Gerald Jordan) just doesn't add up. And it's not just the fact that, as tracksuited UDA footsoldier, Warren (Ciaran Nolan) points out: "Everybody is called Davey." His wee friend Jane (Kathy Kiera Clarke) seems like one of us. But does her indignation at the anti-discrimination policies of the civil service represent bone fide biggotry?

Jenkinson writes some very funny, sharp patter, often in a style that harks back to British sitcoms of a bygone era. But Rough Magic director, Lynn Parker, hasn't completely discovered a way to allow the writer's bizarre and unsettling mix of comedy and violence work together. So as the comic book violence and the slapstick kneecappings begin to proliferate, The Bonefire sometimes looks more confused than surreal.

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