Review: The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Royal Lyceum

The characters don't have the depth to sustain a full-length play
The characters don't have the depth to sustain a full-length play
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Mad Padraic is a terrorist so vicious even his INLA splinter-group colleagues think he’s bad news.

When Wee Thomas, Mad Padraic’s cat, is found with his brain splattered over a lonely road in Inishmore, Padraic drops the fight for freedom in Belfast at once and returns home looking for revenge.

Although there’s lots of fake blood sprayed, and people are killed and tortured on stage, the mutilated terrorists and disembowelled animatronic cats that litter the set are considerably more comical than disgusting. Dark comedy is the order of the day, although those affected by the real-life religious conflict in Ireland might be less amused.

The Lyceum’s production is perfectly funny if you like the dark humour in shows like Psychoville, but it doesn’t have quite enough laughs to compensate for the essential triviality of the story.

The play’s characters are ridiculous, incapable of sustained rational thought, and motivated by the trivial or the selfish rather than any greater good. That works in a satirical sketch, but these characters don’t have the depth to sustain a full-length play on their own.

Nonetheless, the Irish rising star Peter Campion masters Padraic’s mood swings and irrational behaviour with ease. His relaxed aggression perfectly brings to life the mundanity of the violence that the play is built from.

Rory Murphy gets his share of the laughs as Davey the village idiot, while Rose O’Loughlin is full of angry teen energy as Mairead the militant love interest. Christopher Fairbank (The Fifth Element, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean 4) gives a solid performance as Donny, Padraic’s long-suffering father with a mother-trampling past.

As always, the Lyceum’s set and lighting are gorgeous. The period Frosties box is a nice touch, and the real cat in the second act was an instant hit with the audience.

But with a play like this, which has little emotional substance and relies almost entirely on being hilarious to get it through the evening, you’ve got be superhumanly, side-splittingly funny. This production isn’t.

Rating: ***

• Run ends May 12