‘Laughter is good for you!’ proclaims the theatre programme and by this logic, From Both Hips is very bad for you indeed. As far as live theatre goes, this production is as dead as the proverbial doornail, though it doesn’t share the virtue of having a point. Mark O’Rowe’s script attempts a snappy, naturalistic rhythm, but these actors fumble their exchanges to create an effect that is truly grating to listen to, resolutely failing to bring the dialogue to life.
Set in Dublin, the accents wander all over the shop like a broken trolley. Kay Flanagan is credited as dialect coach but she hasn’t kept all her charges in check here – Emma Powell is furthest off the mark and can barely act her way out of trouble either. It’s a problem that permeates the rest of the cast. Susan Bracken does well as the intrusive wannabe agony aunt and is involved in the best ‘joke’ of the evening – that dogs are incapable of love. This is miserably stretched beyond breaking point. Rebecca Clarke proves there is acting talent in the company as Theresa, the dog lover. Rowan Finnegan must learn that gurning and playing with his t-shirt does not constitute acting, while Nick Danan is unconvincing. Helen Heaslip doesn’t have much to do with her part and even that isn’t done all that well.
Director Aileen Gonsalves must take some of the blame for not addressing the pacing of the dialogue, though I was impressed with some of the detail, such as the tea actually steaming when poured. Unfortunately, that was the highlight.