From Both Hips | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

From Both Hips


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


From Both Hips, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company. Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe calls his 1997 play a comedy, though there's nothing particularly funny about a man who's mistakenly shot (twice) by an incompetent member of the Dublin police force and then endures a long, painful recovery. On the other hand, the playwright does use plenty of comic types: the grumpy misanthrope, the inept cop, the clinging mistress, the put-upon wife seeking revenge. And like Harold Pinter, O'Rowe uses the elements of comedy--sly quips, non sequiturs, the light treatment of a dark topic--to craft a mostly serious work that constantly undermines our expectations. For example, it's the "innocent" victim we despise by the end, not the trigger-happy policeman. O'Rowe is also a deft portraitist (again like Pinter) who delights in revealing the unsuspected depths of apparent stock characters.

Not all the performances in Jay Paul Skelton's U.S. premiere are equally strong; some of the acting feels rough and underrehearsed. But the best in the ensemble successfully negotiate O'Rowe's multilayered characters; Jeff Buelterman in particular is superb as the shooting victim. The quavering edge in his voice alone--part angry growl, part childish whine--speaks volumes about his confusion and free-floating rage. From the moment we first hear him speak, we know he's capable of anything. And over the course of the play, he proves it.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →