New and fresh Irish playwright Enda Walsh is currently getting a full-blown festival exposure at the Studio Theater, with “Penelope,” his contemporary version of the story of Ulysses and his wife, having already been performed.
Now its “The Walworth Face” and “The New Electric Ballroom,” starring some of DC’s finest veteran actors and actresses, being performed simultaneously in the Milton and at the Mead theaters, respectively.
In “The Walworth Farce” you get to see Walsh’s work, his furious passion for words embedded. There’s something brazenly revolting, revolutionary and rash about this play, which builds from confusion to clarity and madness, while blasting away just about all traces of fondness for Irish sentimentality and tropes.
Here’s the trip: three Irish men living in London, a father and two sons, act out the recurring and changing history and farce of their lives in their disjointed up-high city flat. It’s a cross-dressing, sometimes dangerous, violent sorting out of their own history, of murder, death, displacement and identity, plus there’s a prize for best actor each time out. When the youngest son brings in an interloper, things go straight to the inevitable hell, with no pit stop for purgatory.
Ted Van Griethuysen shows again his gift for going from classical, Shakespeare and Shaw to the crude poetics of contemporary Irish plays. He’s a mad, sly, bully-boy ringmaster here. The acting, including Aubrey Deeker and Alex Morf as the sons, is superb all around, and the tensions and foreboding is electric.
“The New Electric Ballroom” stars Jennifer Mendenhall and Nancy Robinette as two Irish sisters lost in the memories of their small-town youth, trying to find the truth.