It was only yesterday that Phil was reminiscing about theatrical mishaps and already he has another to add to his list.
In Enda Walsh‘s strange and possibly existential (if Phil really understood the word) Ballyturk (also directed by Walsh) Cillian Murphy* has a scene where he energetically smashes vinyl singles by hurling them against the back wall of the set (brilliantly choreographed to the tune of each record). One hit at such a perfect angle that instead of shattering it ricocheted and flew like a sharp-edged Frisbee the depth of the Lyttelton stage and out into the auditorium over the ducking heads of patrons in about six rows of the stalls. Since Health and Safety no longer allow sweets to be thrown to kiddies at a panto these days we feel they must be informed immediately.
As they took their seats in the stalls, Phil’s companion for the evening muttered “I have no idea what this play is about”. Ninety minutes later neither he nor Phil were much wiser.
Well, we have our theories, but this is not why we now issue a SPOILER ALERT.
Murphy, Mikel Murfi and Stephen Rea, play characters ‘1’ 2′ and ‘3’ respectively. The first two are seemingly innocent chappies who exist in a strange room (design Jamie Vartan) that may or may not be Purgatory. It is full of cupboards at various heights up the walls and is decorated with scribbles of maps and characters from an Irish town Ballyturk. Are they lovers or brothers or just mates? Does the persistent cuckoo clock imply it is an institution? Do the numbers for their characters nod to The Prisoner TV series and suggest the could be captives? One must just go with it and decide it probably doesn’t really matter.
‘1’ and ‘2’ fling themselves into their daily rituals – sometimes performed to a backdrop of songs like ABC’s “The Look of Love” – at a manically breakneck speed, dressing, undressing, shaving, eating, exercising, showering, covering themselves with talcum powder and bursting red balloons (balloons !!), that’s when they’re not playing characters from their (presumably imagined) town or eavesdropping on them. ‘1’ is prone to climbing the walls, perching like a bird and pretending he’s an old woman. Eventually they are visited by ‘3’ who is treated to a game of Jenga made from a tower of biscuits. He treats them to a song and presents them with an impossible choice. Perhaps ‘1’ and ‘2’ are both called Sophie?
It’s occasionally quite funny – though perhaps not quite as funny as you’d wish it to be – and played with winning sincerity by all, especially the two extraordinarily energetic Murphys/Murfis.
We couldn’t make head nor tail of the closing moments. Reincarnation? Fritzel? Rolf Harris? But we must admit that Dame Enda (as he is known in Whinger Towers) has a formidably impressive way with words and a deliciously splendid taste in music.
Imagine Under Milk Wood or an Ingmar Berman film written by Samuel Beckett on a nitrous oxide high, directed by David Lynch and percolated through Rick Mayall’s Bottom.
Another theatrical mishap recollection:
A favourite collective memory in the Whingers’ history was at a performance of Love Song (which also starred Mr Murphy) when Neve Campbell fluffed her lines. Rather than cover the moment she curled up with her head in her hands and spat out the (unscripted) line “oh shit!” The Whingers were of course in seventh heaven. Their centre front row seats afforded a perfect view of the spectacle, no Dame Judi utter professionalism here. The Whingers salute Ms Campbell for giving them a memory far beyond the play itself. Sublime.