Writers: Ghost Train Willy
Director: Mathew Ralli
Reviewer: Rachel Rafferty
Ghost Train Willy’s musical comedy Rhubarb Crumble was a sell-out success at the 2014 Tiger Dublin Fringe festival. It concerns the behind the scenes shenanigans of a ‘second rate’ theatre company, the absurdly named Rhubarb Crumble. The roller-coaster storyline follows a group of five theatre graduates that have come together to form a theatrical troupe that specializes in children’s dramas. These are Jo, her mousy assistant Mel, the choreographer Jason, the techie Sean, and Richard. There is also the mysterious, off-stage Will.
Using a mixture of razor-sharp, witty dialogue, sound, music and interspersed with songs that are funnily reminiscent of a musical, the narrative is constantly racing through time. It flicks from back-story to fast-forward, hilariously revealing details of the lives, dreams, conflicts and foibles of each member of the company. Jealousy, intrigue, a comical love triangle, and the megalomania of an inflated ego are among the emotive elements that feed the cast’s inter-relationships. In each little scenario actors take on an array of diverse and often quirky rôles using various provincial accents and virtuosic, clownish, movements to comedic effect. The performance energetically sprints along punctuated by clever, one-liners; pacing is snappy, so that each little act moves into the next without losing a second. This all culminates in a ridiculously, humorous finale, a post-modern version of Jack and the Beanstalk.
The production has some winning aspects. Principally, it showcases the skills of the excellent cast. It is clear that each member of this very obviously talented ensemble group of actors is highly acclaimed not just as improv performers, but also as singers and comedians. However despite this, unfortunately, for this reviewer the show was somewhat flawed in areas. This was mainly to do with the enacted script. It rambled all over the place in parts making the presentation sometimes disjointed, and even occasionally incomprehensible. Some of the interaction seemed to meander off away from the main story line. There were also too many little micro-narratives so that it was difficult to keep track of what was happening at times. This lack of focus disrupts the flow and how the audience engages with the piece. A process of editing here and there to tighten up the script would have enhanced the production making it sharper and inviting a closer, keener, engagement.
Photo courtesy of Tiger Dublin Fringe. Runs till 29th November.