Monday, March 05, 2007

REVIEW: Danny and Chantelle (Still Here) (Project Cube, Dublin)

There's a blizzard of 'yolks' in actor, Phillip McMahon's first show as a playwright, a sweetly, scurrilously-told two-hander about sex, friendship, dancing and Bird's Eye potato waffle.

For mates Danny (McMahon) and Chantelle (Georgina McKennit) Friday night just wouldn't be Friday night without a pocketful of pills from party queen, Swiss Toni. But equipped with ingredient X, the kids are ready for anything. Or at least anything that starts with a GHD, involves a few WKDs, and, with a bit of luck, ends up with a BJ.

Anyone who has seen Enda Walsh's Disco Pigs, Mark O'Rowe's Howie the Rookie, or Garry Duggan's Monged will be familiar with the style. But anyone who can imagine what might happen if all three plays were genetically spliced together will pretty much have the whole picture.

McMahon's is not a hugely innovative piece, but the writer handles the material with plenty of finesse and humour, even when generating his laughs through some extremely frank coverage of human bodily functions. You'll never see blue WKD and plaster of paris in quite the same way again.

What is very fetching about the whole thing is how gently the realism is played. Where Mark O'Rowe, for example, is burstin' to expose his streety credentials, Danny and Chantelle's Ballymun roots are conjured more carefully, in gentle and intriguing asides, rather than stagey confrontation. Life "after the weekend" may indeed be hard for the pair, but McMahon doesn't convince us of the authenticity of what we are watching by making a fetish of it.

Best of all are the performances, aided by Deirdre Molloy's precise, energetic and sure-footed direction. McMahon and McKennit, as the central pair, move lithely between monologues, conversations and quickfire physical caricatures, like exemplary tour guides to a city of fleeting pleasures.

All of that in less than an hour? What are you on?

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