Scotsman Assembly, Edinburgh
August, 2000

I have been impressed by Sean Kearns, an actor almost unknown on this side of the water, in roles ranging from Lennie in Of Mice And Men to the Nurse in Romeo And Juliet. Now he crosses the Irish Sea with Pat McGrath to play a couple of slaughtermen reliving the events which led to the closure of the abattoir they worked in.

This two-hander by Patrick McCabe (author of The Butcher Boy) deserves more success here, but I fear won't get it. As Vance and Moss recount and re-enact the confrontation between a ne'er-do-well just out of jail, the slaughterhouse owner and is fatale daughter, the dominant register of the piece is "Irish and Western" both Paco and "Big John" are literally cowboys among the forty fields of green, and all concerned are given to bursting into C&W song to comment upon events. (It must be said, too, that the repetition of songs comes over less as thoughtfully patterning than just plain repetitious.) Without a sensitivity for this strain of Irish culture, much of the work's power especially as Moss and Vance deal with their own everyday tragedies is likely to pass one by. This is a pity, as two such finely honed performances deserve more recognition.

Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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