Having won the Civil War, old Oliver took the traditional English ruler's working holiday and went off to "civilise" the Irish; this basically involved killing tens of thousands of them for the greater glory of the Puritan God. This nightmarish episode in Anglo-Irish history is played out on a gigantic skewed bed of a set where Cromwell, Elizabethan lickspittle Hibernophobe Edmund Spenser and a host of less specific figures pop up and down to haunt the dreaming Buffun.
As is the switchback way of dreams, it is horrific and blackly hilarious by rapid turns; the collective performance onstage and off is tuned to perfection, including the most hiss-free and precisely-timed use of taped voice I've seen. An articulate, gloriously cheeky evocation of a bastard whose legacy we still can't exorcise.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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