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Faith falters to fulfil potential

WHEN Michael first meets Chris, he's all over the place. Spilling the contents of his bag on the ground outside their children's creche, the father of two is struggling to adapt to the role of stay-at-home husband.

A year ago, Michael was a pharmaceutical salesman. Chris used to work in banking, but the two men couldn't be more different.

For a start, Chris chose to walk away from his career and Michael was made redundant. The former fancies himself as something of a free spirit and takes the opportunity to get to know Michael, offering him a job in the process.

Crippled with anxiety, and on the verge of a breakdown, Michael dutifully accepts. A dark and complicated account of family troubles and misplaced optimism, Paul Meade's Faith digs deep for a reason to justify its story of one man's struggle to find himself in recession-hit Ireland.

The characters are believable, and Don Wycherley's strenuous portrayal of a man trying to reclaim his confidence prevents Faith from spiralling out of control. That is, until the final scene when logic and realism are sacrificed.

There's nothing subtle about the set, which doubles up as a modern living room and the rooftop of an office block where Chris and Michael work as security guards.

PRETENTIOUS

The latter's wife, Maeve (Jennifer O'Dea), expresses concern about her husband's relationship with Chris (Michael Glenn Murphy). Michael has a history of mental illness, and Chris' pseudo-psychological babbling appears to influence our protagonist greatly.

He's happy again – but for how long? Should Michael stop taking his medication and head off on more booze-fuelled football trips with his new buddy?

It's a jumpy production, often bouncing weeks ahead from one scene to the next, and we're never sure whose side we're supposed to be on. That's what happens when you take shortcuts with a script.

The lads' imaginary rooftop football game is a nice comic touch, and the actors work well with what they're given.

But sometimes Meade's frustrating dialogue is too pretentious for its own good. And the farcical ending does nobody any favours. One day, this will make for a truly decent play. It just needs work. HHHII

Ends Saturday. On tour until March 29.


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