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Theater review: 'The Walworth Farce' at the Banshee

August 9, 2011 |  2:04 pm

The Walworth Farce at the Banshee
You can smell mendacity — and the roast chicken. All unhappy families are unreliable narrators, but the Irish boyos of “The Walworth Farce” serve up a tall tale indeed: With women’s wigs, poultry and very sharp knives, they perform a wildly distorted version of the mysterious events that wrecked their clan. In Enda Walsh’s dark comedy, love means giving a good line reading — a thrilling conceit muddled by Theatre Banshee’s exuberant but sloppy production.

Terrorized by their erratic father, Dinny (Tim Cummings), stunted brothers Sean (Adam Haas Hunter) and Blake (Cameron J. Oro alternating with Kevin Stidham) are trapped in a seedy London flat, condemned to repeat a fictitious past. Only the appearance of Hayley (Brie Eley) — a sweet grocery checkout girl with a crush on Sean — suggests the curtain might come down on this long-running show. But Dinny will do anything not to face the truth, or his own self-loathing.

Arthur MacBride’s disheveled set and Jessica Dalager’s tatty costumes create a perfectly nasty domestic prison. But the usually sure-footed Theatre Banshee stumbles here as Tim Byron Owen’s indulgent direction allows the talented cast too much time to grandstand in what should be a bracingly disciplined evening. 

Yet even this marred staging can’t neutralize the toxic charm of Walsh’s hazmat crew. Abuse survivors, budding playwrights and stage junkies who missed Druid Ireland’s razor-sharp version at UCLA Live in 2009 might want to stop by and rubberneck. Maybe you’ve never worn a fright wig to please your da, but Walsh’s theater of cruelty might look a lot like home. 

-- Charlotte Stoudt

“The Walworth Farce,” the Banshee, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Sept. 4. $20. (818) 846-5323 or Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes.

Photo: Adam Haas Hunter, left, and Tim Cummings in "The Walworth Farce." Credit: Theatre Banshee.