Friday, November 16, 2018

Deadlock A Black Comedy - a political accommodation to unsettle the dead (Accidental Theatre until Friday 16 November)

Accidental Theatre’s venue in Shaftesbury Square offers a performance space that the right size and cost to encourage experimentation. That’s what Paul Mone has done with the staging of his new hour-long play Deadlock: A Black Comedy.

Two civil servants involved in the RHI process perish in a records room up on the hill, their bodies lie undiscovered, their souls trapped in the building in a form of bureaucratic purgatory.

Played by Glenn McGivern, Jim’s inner civil servant is finally enjoying peace and quiet, while his colleague Mick (Luke Bannon) is bored as he struggles to learn how to manipulate physical objects. It’s a nightmare for him not to be able to switch off the radio when the Nolan Show jingle begins without help. Bannon’s consistent ungainly physicality demonstrates his other worldly imbalance.

Deadlock is a show of two halves. The first has a (perhaps suitably) deadly lethargy as these pair get to grips with the bulldozers threatening their tranquil repose. With the political institutions out of action for more than a year, a property developer is pitching alternative accommodation plans for the prime East Belfast real estate.

The pace quickens as the property developer’s left-leaning sister Ulidia encounters the deceased duo who make a surreal call for help to a political heavyweight (voiced by Robert Kane). Holly Hannaway engenders Ulidia with a ballsy free spirit feel that fights on behalf of the ill-represented public. Paul Faulkner plays the property developer while Christine Clark takes on the role of a unionist minister’s special advisor and Paul Mone has a brief cameo.

The script builds on a set of good concepts and contains some well-observed moments (People Before Profit leaving propaganda around the building was a fun idea) though the comedy doesn’t break through nearly as often as it should given the fantastical situation dreamt up of locking the dead into a dying institution.

Deadlock: A Black Comedy finishes its run at Accidental Theatre on Friday 16 November at 8pm.

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