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Monday 11 December 2017

Review: Slattery's Sago Saga

Rathfarnham Castle

John McKeown

THE vital ingredient in the seven chapters of Flann O'Brien's unfinished novel is, apparently, sago, the starch used to make milk puddings and other gruel-like desserts.

With this improbable, but typically O'Brienish motif as his base, Arthur Riordan has cooked up a monstrous pudding of a comic play.

The bizarre goings on, runaway plot, and extreme characterisation is all manna for the comic talents of the five-strong cast in Jo Mangan's Performance Corporation production. Louis Lovett, taking on four different roles, is brilliantly funny as the decrepit, self-medicating Anglo-Irish Lord of the Manor Eustace Baggeley, and equally so as the caricature of the greasy TD, Aloysius Foley.

Clare Barrett is Crawford MacPherson, the fire-spitting, tartan-encased wife of the Texan oil magnate with the dastardly plan to buy up all of Ireland's agricultural land and sow it with sago.

Darragh Kelly is Sarsfield Slattery, Baggeley's estate manager, who looks like an oversized leprechaun, but there's a reason for that.

Malcolm Adams is the pivot around whom the plot unravels, the wryly innocent manager of neighbouring Pog Mahone Hall.

Lisa Lambe, in slinkly gold Sixties dress and white plastic calf boots is, among other things, the love interest.

The flakey but impressive setting of Rathfarnham Castle's huge living room is the perfect match for this fast-moving comic fantasy.

Audience seating is arranged on the fringes of the room, but every point of this setting is filled to bursting by the Saga's wild cyclonic pressure of events.

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