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Long Live the Little Knife

Scene from Long Live the Little Knife. Photo: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan Scene from Long Live the Little Knife. Photo: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
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David Leddy is best known for his creative scenography – parks and backstage areas have been called into service for previous productions – yet this quick-fire two-hander brings his writing skills to the fore. A shaggy-dog tale of two would-be con artists, it takes broad swipes at the unregulated art world, the nature of truth and the cold heart of capitalism that still deals in violence beneath a respectable veneer, while undercutting any pomposity with a wild humour.

Allegedly based on a conversation Leddy had with a couple in a bar – the first of many cheeky layers of framing – Wendy Seager and Neil McCormack race through the retelling of their adventure into forgery. The plot twists and turns, chasing a happy conclusion, but it is Leddy’s delight in manipulating the audience that drives the fun. Occasionally pausing for a meditation on grief or to explain the tangled economics of the art world, Leddy’s full-tilt direction constantly wrong-foots the audience, even using a fake power cut to expose the levels of dishonesty written into the script.

With two excellent performances wooing the crowd, the deeper themes of fake and real are hidden beneath crazy antics and some rapid banter: at times, the emphasis on falsehood, and the smart irony, is overworked. Yet this is a triumph of intelligent theatre, which entertains while provoking questions about the value of art and exposes the theatremaking process as a form of deceit that moves towards expressing a truth about human nature, greed and human need.

Dates: February 2-February 28, then touring until March 28, PN February 24

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Verdict
Fast-paced farce that juggles the real and fake
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