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Friday 29 August 2014

Bruising dullness redeemed by bursts of acting excellence

The bruising of clouds

JOHN McKEOWN

Published 30/09/2013 | 05:00

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IT IS sub-titled a 'Dublin Love Story', which of course means a Northside love story, with the usual salt-of-the-earth suspects thrashing around in a hail of studiously authentic slang.

Sean McLoughlin's new play twists the genre a little in the shape of social half-breed Martin (Ian Lloyd Anderson) who has a middle-class mother and a working-class dad.

Martin can demolish the Budweiser and Smirnoff with the best of them but he also uses words of more than one syllable which makes him "mad posh" as far as Kelly (Seana Kerslake) is concerned.

Kelly is the part-time hairdresser who lives in the flat above Martin.

A girl so ignorant that at one point she asks Martin what an oil drum is. But her heart is in the right place – or is it? Is it perhaps located exclusively within the bosom she wants enhanced courtesy of Martin's money?

Martin received a big compensation payout after having his leg crushed by "a big steel barrel that contains oil". But he is also crippled by demons which drive him to drink. He believes the crushed leg is just the down payment for something terrible he and his friend did one night.

No, the course of this true love isn't going to run smoothly. Especially when the road is paved with vodka bottles and policed by 'bad karma'.

Martin's obsession with being accursed lends the play some exoticism but can't disguise what is a very thin and basic will-they-won't-they stay-together story. However, Jim Culleton's Fishamble production succeeds in making us care about the result. As a character, Kelly may be as flat as a pancake but as events unfold she takes on depth and solidity, Kerslake making us see – and admire – the tough, genuine girl within the bling-coated shell of the hairdresser.

Anderson's Martin is fully rounded and vigorous from the beginning. A troubled man who really wants to be left alone, but is willing to leave solitude behind when "a beautiful human being" shows up. Ryan Andrews's Deano – Kelly's unsavoury boyfriend – is also potent during his brief appearances.

Without the strong performances it would be a bruisingly dull experience.

Irish Independent

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