Edmund Kean, the Catholic Relief Act, penny dreadfuls, mistaken identity, Celtic bears, seedy playhouses, madness, drunkenness, murder most foul… Joseph Crilly’s latest is a rumbustious Irish stew full of tasty characters and spicy situations that somehow, just about, works.
This peppery tale could have looked in greater depth at the persecution of Catholics and could have revelled more in the nonpareil Shakespearian actor, Edmund Kean, but its scattergun approach ultimately satisfies as an enjoyable comic romp.
Ireland, 1829, and the “kissable” Kitty Galloway (Amy Molloy) is falling over drunk with Kean (Edward Kingham), dancing a merry jig with admirers, Ned (Ruairi Conaghan) and Davy (Shane Armstrong), and throttling her sister (Charlotte McCurry).
As a consequence of the latter, she flies to London where she embarks on a dubious stage career and is the subject of one of those lurid dramas set in papist-bashing protestant Ireland.
Time and time again, redemption is found in Crilly’s colourful poetic prose - “Dublin is heaving with thieves who’d skin you for a soft toenail” - and the quality of Rafe Beckley’s fast-paced production and first-rate cast with Peter Gerald, as the dreadfuls’ author an oily delight and Molloy simply terrific.