Writer: Rosemary Jenkinson
Director: Stephen Kelly
Reviewer: Colm G Doran
C21 productions present Love or Money, a comedy piece set in Belfast that depicts the fledgling relationship between Eilish played by Roisin Gallgher and Conor (originally Sean, he explains – ‘I didn’t want you googling me!’) played by Michael Condron. They meet on a dating website for elite singles and after many nervous exchanges seem to really hit it off. However they both conceal secrets from their professional lives and it is these secrets that propel the action of the piece, forcing the pair to make the choice either to remain in their relationship or put their working life before their love life.
Jenkinson’s script is at the heart of what’s funny and what isn’t in this piece. Her writing shines in the nervousness of the first meeting of these pair of jaded workaholics. Toeing the line between being interested in one another and not appearing overly forward provides some genuinely funny and truthful moments. It titillates the audience into visions of a farcical Benny Hill style bedroom scene later in the play. Unfortunately once the initial meeting is concluded, the play begins to lose pace and almost any trace of humour. Instead we meet Eilish’s hard-line boss Alec (played by Michael Liebmann) and Travis, (also played by Liebmann) Conor’s hard done by and gossipy employee. Between Alec and his damp squibs such as: ‘When I see those adverts for Africa with the women with the big jugs, not tits like – water jugs’ and Travis performing the most yawn-inducing attempt at arson a theatre audience has ever witnessed, it’s not long before you feel yourself looking at your watch. Gallagher is the saving grace of this piece; her comedic timing, facial expressions and quick-witted dialogue is the most engaging part of the evening.
Kelly’s direction seems for the most part solid and Gus Mawhinney’s set design is a credit to the production; firstly conveying the plush city centre apartment and then a courthouse moments later. However the dialogue too often fell to the extremes of being awkward and boring. Love or Money has decent intentions; its insight into online dating, first dates and the anxious toing and froing of banter is enjoyable, but it attempts too much and too often fails to strike the funny bone.
Runs until February 27th | Image: courtesy of the Lyric Theatre.