MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

What a Story: Enda Walsh’s Walworth Farce

NCT's "The Walworth Farce"; photo by Chris Bennion

NCT’s The Walworth Farce; photo by Chris Bennion

For its fall production, Seattle’s enterprising New Century Theatre has chosen Enda Walsh’s The Walworth Farce. Here’s my review for Crosscut:

Talk about a repetition compulsion: For the first half of The Walworth Farce, New Century Theatre’s latest adventure, a father and his two grown sons run through the lines of the play they reenact day after day – an absurd, antic ritual involving a mock procession with a cardboard coffin, constant prop swaps, dizzying identity changes and a hidden “fortune” of shredded Monopoly money.

In the confines of their squalid South London council flat, Dinny (Peter Crook) is the paterfamilias and dictatorial writer-director of the script he and his sons Sean (New Century Theatre artistic director Darragh Kennan) and Blake (Peter Dylan O’Connor) perform day after day. Dinny keeps his boys’ eyes on the prize, egging them on to compete for a chalice-like trophy that will go to that day’s “best actor.” But snafus inevitably occur, and the ritual has to be reorganized.

Dinny’s play is the thing that’s supposed to keep them all safe. It recounts the story, fable repeated until it’s taken as fact, of how this insular family unit was forced to abandon their idyllic home back in Cork. We also learn how Mother was killed in a bizarre accident involving a dead horse. They’ve been living as exiles ever since, surrounded by “savage” Londoners and holed up on the top floor of a grimy, stairless high-rise.
“What are we without our stories?” wonders Dinny by way of justifying the outrageous fiction he’s used to paint over what actually happened – and the real world kept at bay by a half-dozen deadbolts on the flat’s front door.

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Filed under: playwrights, review, theater

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