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Farce is alive and well in pacy comedy
Published 11/08/14

OUR seaside piers are crumbling so thank goodness someone is around to preserve the end-of-the-pier show — even if it is on an island in the middle of the River Thames.

Last Confessions Of A Scallywag at the Mill at Sonning is just that: a rollicking, pacy, fun-loving farce set in Northern Ireland in some unspecified decade but feeling like the Fifties.

It had everything a farce needs: a bewildered priest — usually it’s a trouserless vicar but this is a Catholic rural community so his dignity and innocence are preserved — a man dressing as a woman, the same man reduced to his underwear and bucketfuls of misunderstanding and deception.

The energetic cast give it absolutely everything as the lies pile up and the desperate attempts to get out of it keep failing.

The brief plot — not that plots ever matter — sees Douglas McFerran’s Patrick Lynch apparently on his deathbed and Kieran Flynn’s Father Ryan trying to save his eternal soul with a confession. The timing in this set-up scene is perfect allowing all manner of misdemeanours to emerge such as fathering seven of his neighbour’s children, badmouthing, and mistreatment of his wife.

But then he gets better and a plot is hatched to appear to die anyway for the insurance money. The pace never flags and there are some very funny and subtle jokes hidden in what is the broadest of comedies — one crack about rigor mortis was particularly well done.

And the playwright, Dwina Murphy-Gibb lets her pen travel over some acute observations of Catholicism in a ghost scene which might have seen her excommunicated in an earlier age. All of this is accompanied by a soundtrack featuring Ronnie Drew from the Dubliners and a host of great Irish folk tunes. Last Confessions Of A Scallywag is at the Mill at Sonning until September 27 with a 10-day break from August 25.

Last Confessions Of A Scallywag

The Mill at Sonning

Until September 27

PUBLISHED 11/08/14

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