Monday, November 26, 2007

REVIEW: The Last of the Celtic Tigers (The Olympia, Dublin)

You couldn't help thinking of that climatic scene from Spartacus as he crowd gathered for the opening night of The Last of the Celtic Tigers. So many young men in pricey jeans, so many odd tans, so much pectoral definition. At any moment, you might imagine, the lads were going to jump to their feet and roar with pride: "I'm Ross O'Carroll-Kelly" "I'm Ross O'Carroll-Kelly," "No, I'm Ross O'Carroll-Kelly."

Paul Howard's creation was so exquisitely poised in its relationship with the zeitgeist, that it was never certain whether the writer simply spotted a type, or whether his writing somehow created these folks.

In either case, few people will arrive at the Olympia over the next few weeks knowing nothing about Ross O'Carroll-Kelly. Thanks to the newspaper columns, books, CDs and other manifestations of Howard's local media empire, anyone who hasn't consciously avoided the tale of Ross will be familiar with its cast of characters and the special little city in which they live. And so now, there's a chance to enjoy all that in the flesh.

The Last of The Celtic Tigers will not disappoint its audience much, but it is equally hard to imagine it exciting them too much either. The play is almost exactly what could be expected of it. It's a fairly well put together show, with very good performances -- Rory Nolan is desperately on the money in the title role, and gets solid support all around, with Rory Keenan's Ronan particularly enjoyable -- and it possesses just about enough gags to sustain its two and a half hours on the stage.

Howard writes some damn good lines – a riff about the effects of too many visits to Avoca Handweavers is priceless. But the writer (and to give him his due, his audience) often seems just as happy with slightly shop-soiled gags that spoil the stats. But this, after all, is boulevard comedy, (even if the boulevard in question is the Rock Road) so achieving the status of mildly entertaining, which the show is, must be deemed a success.

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