At Chicago Shakespeare for Just Five Days | Bleader

At Chicago Shakespeare for Just Five Days


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The Walworth Farce
  • The Walworth Farce

Enda Walsh's 2006 play starts out weird and very funny. An Irishman and his two grown sons bounce off the walls of the seedy London flat where they apparently squat, acting out an elaborate farce in which a contractor pretends that the mansion he's been working on belongs to him, then resorts to fancy maneuvers when the real owners show up. The acting style is vaudevillian by way of Bugs Bunny and Charles Ludlam. One son wears a dress and switches flouncy wigs depending on which devious slut he's playing. The other keeps the top of his head shaved and holds his mustache on with an elastic band. And Dad?

Dressed for disco, he's the actor-manager of the troupe, demanding perfection while portraying the contractor with a zest bordering on ecstasy. But fool around enough and somebody ends up in tears. In act two some terrible shit hits the fan. The meaning of the farce is decoded, its consequences are made clear, and the trio's options are quickly reduced to zero. The most brilliant thing about Walsh's exceedingly brilliant script is the sense he creates that the play-within-the-play is a genuine collective fantasy, elaborated day in, day out over many years, until its kernel of truth has been all but obliterated by lies, appropriations, misrememberings, and an astoundingly dynamic sense of guilt. The cast of this Druid production at Chicago Shakespeare are hilarious with the detritus and heartbreaking with the truth.

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