DramaGalway Theatre FestivalIrelandReview

Looking Deadly – Town Hall Theatre, Galway

Director: Amy Conroy
Reviewer: Tricia O’Beirne

Niamh McGrath and Keith Singleton play a plethora of characters in their small town send-up, Looking Deadly, and they do so with great skill, assurance and seamless segueing between the various personalities.

The story of the rivalry between two funeral directing companies in Foystown, somewhere in rural Ireland, is slight enough but the telling is very funny and engaging. Jane and Rob from Lynch’s Funeral Home are in financial difficulties and are being run into the ground by the megalomaniacal Mick and his unfortunate son Seanie, who have set up in competition with Cost Less Coffins across the road (speedy embalming and flat pack coffins a speciality).

The four primary characters are well developed and they are supported by a host of comical Foystown folk, along with the visiting cousins from Dublin 4 keeping an eye on the local talent. It takes an unfortunate embalming incident – the phrase “frothy purge” was used to fearsome effect – to set the world to right again but along the way we encounter devious scheming, greed, violence, romance, misunderstandings and of course death and ‘hang’ sandwiches.

McGrath and Singleton make the shifts between personalities look effortless as they deftly embody the different characters physically and without recourse to props: they signal with gestures, facial expressions and by changing accents. Considering the piece is short, at one hour in duration, the main characters are impressively engaging and defined and are played insightfully and at times poignantly; the tone of the piece goes beyond parody or one-dimensional comedy, although McGrath’s villainous Mick (or Thick) is a masterful comic characterisation.

The set is simple, consisting of a lace-bedecked coffin on wheels, and the movement of the coffin in conjunction with the lighting are effective in marking scene and mood changes. The pace is fast, the interaction between the two actors is smooth and practised, and the performances are vivacious and wickedly accurate. Deadly craic.

Runs until 23 April 2017 | Image: Contributed

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