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The Big Fellah (Tour – Liverpool)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Everything you ever wanted to know about the IRA – but were far too scared to ask? If that sounds flippant, well, this is horribly funny. And complicated at times, covering quarter of a century of politics while concentrating on one small group in a New York safe house. But the writing is brilliant, particularly in creating sympathetic characters (apparently based on real people) which plays havoc with preconceptions.

Luke Griffin (Ruairi O’Drisceoil) should be in the Guinness Book of Records for his sense of comic timing; the pause before one punchline is almost excruciating. Likewise, it comes as no surprise (actually, it does…): David Rintoul, the psychotic Frank McArdle, is also a stand up comedian. Ironically, that’s the ambition of Tom Billy Coyle (Youssef Kerkour), whose trenchantly outrageous views make him unwittingly hilarious.

Some scenes stand out by virtue of being almost complete plays in themselves, such as that starring the ambitious Elizabeth Ryan (Lisa Kent). Just as powerful is the other female lead, Yasmine Akram as Karelma.

And Finbar Lynch is mesmerizing in the title role, an IRA fundraiser, who lives up to his name by virtue of his charisma, then, in a sense, the epiphany as disillusion dawns. However, David Ricardo-Pearce as enigmatic, dogged, Michael Doyle, if representative, is perhaps the most frightening one of all. He is the focus of the final scene, which to some may seem out of place but gives cause, personally and universally, for speculation.

A shocking play in many ways but you are unlikely to see a finer example of comedy and tragedy complementing each other. An Out of Joint production, totally riveting from start to finish - definitely not to be missed.

-Carole Baldock


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