By the second act, Walsh begins to provide clarity to the story and reveals just how deeply this gruesome family tragedy penetrates. His utilization of farce and music hall tradition is merely a pretext for exploring deeper themes like the disintegration of the family unit and indeed society itself. Irish traditions are also in for a skewering as a blubbering Dinny waxes nostalgic about his long-lost home in Cork as "Tura-Lura-Lural" plays on his portable tape recorder.
Cummings is a roaringly good Dinny, a man whose life and self-worth have been stripped away from him, and who finds his only solace in this misbegotten melange of memories. Hunter resonates as the put-upon Sean, who has discovered that London is not a death trap, but is too beaten down by his father to do anything about it. Eley doesn't have a lot to do as Hayley, but she fits the bill.
Oro has the showiest role as Blake, playing assorted women (including his mother), a couple of men, and himself. His differing body languages and vocal inflections—not to mention wigs—help to delineate the character he's portraying at any given time. It's a demanding performance, lurching between the campiness of the characters in the play and the real, angry persona of Blake himself, and Oro does it well.
I was impressed by the production, including the scenic design by Arthur MacBride that efficiently captures the essence of the run-down flat on a small stage, the lighting by R. Christopher Stokes, and the costuming by Jessica Dalager. It was directed by Tim Byron Owen with an assured hand.
I love Los Angeles theater—so many small houses scattered around town, populated by talented artists who love the craft—and Theatre Banshee is one of the best venues I've seen. This was my first visit, but I'll certainly be back. It's well worth a drive to Burbank to check out this production.
The Walworth Farce plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through September 4th. Tickets and more information are available by calling (818) 846-5323 or visiting Theatre Banshee.
Photos copyright 2011 Theatre Banshee