What's it all about, Enda? Because I haven't a clue. Let's try to simplify things (if that's possible). One (Cillian Murphy) and Two (Mikel Murfi) are a couple of messed-up lads, trapped inside a large room where drawings of the residents of Ballyturk (a fictional town that may or may not be real within the world of One and Two) are stuck to the walls.
One shoots darts at them. Two plays out a long list of characters. And eats Tayto crisps.There's a record player in the corner. First, it'll teach us the look of love. Later, the Vapors will get a brief blast.
One and Two talk about life, philosophy and other things we don't understand. One will have a shower. Two will help him to get dressed. It's a little bit slapstick, and occasionally chaotic. What it all means, though…nope, still no idea.
One and Two don't know their names. This is a time and place with "no time" and "no place" (straight from the programme, that bit). And yet, a cuckoo clock bursts to life, as if to remind the lads that outside these walls, there's a whole other world spinning.
We can hear voices, too. A buzzing fly makes its way in. Judging from the look on One's face he's never seen anything like it. Two kills it instantly. A clue, surely.
When the back wall breaks apart to reveal a smoking man in a suit (Stephen Rea as Three), the boys look frightened. But also, as if they were expecting him (they make tea and jenga-like biscuit towers for their very own Godot).
Indeed, playwright and director Enda Walsh has only gone and crafted a new kind of Waiting game. There are hints that Ballyturk might be about abdu…wait, better not spoil things with a loose interpretation.
Could it be that the guys are in purgatory? Ah no. Best not go there. It couldn't be that simple. It should, but Walsh has gone so far out of his way to confuse everyone involved, we suspect he wouldn't dare risk ruining things with such a lazy twist. The point is, the characters don't know what's going on and neither do we.
Ballyturk baffles with bullshit and astounds with brilliance. An athletic Murphy, all childlike and sugared up, is especially good. His performance is equal parts funny and harrowing (he's required to have a fit towards the end).
Mikel Murfi's unsettling portrayal of his elder …watcher, let's say, is magnetic. And Rea…well, Rea gets the weirdest lines in a play with too many weird lines. But talking about your hands for five minutes? Ah, stop.
Yes, there are some outrageously pretentious musings on offer, but Ballyturk plays a neat trick on its audience in that they won't be able to process what just happened, but they'll know they've been entertained. By the astonishing performances, that is. A real head-scratcher, for sure.
Running until August 23. HHHII