Monday, May 18, 1998

The Whiteheaded Boy (Andrews Lane Theatre, Dublin)

The most surprising aspect of Barabbas' success is that the company has made its reputation performing deeply lighthearted slapstick comedy, often while wearing clip-on red noses, on an Irish theatre scene still enamoured with the theatre of the word.

With The Whiteheaded Boy, the company founders -- Veronica Coburn, Raymond Keane and Mikel Murfi -- offer a substantial nod to that literary, Abbey version of Irish theatre, while at the same time shredding its pretensions and creating their most consistently satisfying work yet.

Lennox Robinson's comedy (first performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1916) of one Irish family and its blinkered response to the bad habits of its favourite son, gives ample scope for the indefatigably elastic Barabbas threesome (with Louis Lovett) to work their brand of theatrical magic.

The production's return to Dublin offers Irish audience's a last chance to catch the company before they open the show in London, to what will undoubtedly -- given the current vogue for Irish theatre -- be widespread acclaim.

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