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'Farce' no laughing matter

August 30, 2011|By Dink O'Neal

An intricately woven tale of deceit and familial control issues is on display in “The Walworth Farce” currently playing at Burbank’s Theatre Banshee.

Playwright Enda Walsh’s disturbing and sometimes shocking story of an Irish expatriate living in London with his two adult sons is a lesson in dramaturgical complexity directed with clarity and vigor by Tim Byron Owen.

Played by Tim Cummings, Dinny is a housepainter who has kept his sons confined to a seedy Walworth Road flat since childhood with the constant threat of the outside world’s unknown horrors. Cummings, who appeared last season as the lead in Banshee’s highly successful pub play “War,” gives a tour-de-force performance.

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Clearly out of his mind, Dinny has constructed a performance that the three men play out on a daily basis surrounding their immigration to London. Each detail and line of this “play” must be precisely completed or Cummings’ character goes into bipolar-like rages.

His sons, Blake and Sean, survive this emotional and physically-violent rollercoaster by executing their multiple roles in Dinny’s fantasy with split-second character changes.

The eldest son Blake (played by Cameron J. Oro) dons a skirt, blouse and an array of wigs as he brings to life all of the female roles. Oro is remarkable as he unquestioningly accepts imprisonment at his father’s hand until the daily ritual begins to disintegrate. His characterizations, often involving conversations with himself, are executed so well that there is never a question as to what is occurring.

Meanwhile, Adam Haas Hunter is Sean, the younger brother sent out each morning to retrieve a specific list of provisions required for this twisted tale. But on this particular day, he has brought home someone else’s groceries, which is the catalyst for these volcanic interactions.

Hunter does a fantastic job negotiating a tightrope between his father’s merciless hounding and his own briefly acquired glimpses of their city. He and Oro create a pressure-cooker tension as it’s clear Sean and Blake have discussed ending their continued captivity.

But unexpectedly (and thankfully), Hayley, the checker from the local market arrives with the family’s misplaced supplies. Representing the audience’s view of this perverted nuclear family, the checker, played by Brie Eley, is excellent as she balances inquisitiveness and horror.

Trapped by Dinny and forced to join in the performance, Eley elicits sympathy as she suffers countless gender and racial indignities.

These exceptional performances are complimented by scenic designs from Arthur MacBride, lighting by R. Christopher Stokes, and Brian Danner’s on point choreography.

Adult in nature, this is a powerful production the ending of which will have you on the edge of your seat.

Dink O’Neal, an actor and member of the American Theatre Critics Association, resides in Burbank.

Infobox

What: “The Walworth Farce” by Enda Walsh

When:: 8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:00 p.m. Sundays through September 4.

Where: Theatre Banshee, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank.

Price: $13-$20.

Contact: (818) 846-5323; www.theatrebanshee.org
 
 

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