The 3 Kings – Review by Frances Winston
Single fathers have been in the news a lot in recent years as they fight for the same rights as women in their situation so it was only a matter of time before someone addressed them in the arts. Step forward Tina Noonan with her second offering following the acclaimed The Prodger. All the action is set on a sofa as Ken King and his two sons Jules and Mark watch a football match. The staging is simplistic but effective – so much so that I overheard a woman behind me commenting on a crooked picture that was hanging on the stage saying “you can tell there’s no woman in their household because she would have straightened that!”
Although she is not physically there the spectre of Mrs King looms large after she left her husband and children for a man she met on holiday. Both sons harbour bitterness towards her while Ken is just trying to keep body and soul together. However when she contacts Ken seeking a divorce so she can remarry it is only a matter of time before some long buried secrets are exposed and he and his sons are forced to confront the reality of their situation.
The story isn’t especially outlandish or shocking – similar things have happened in households all over Ireland. As such this could easily have been a tedious watch but what really lifts it is the chemistry between the three actors and their performances. Owen O’Gorman does a great job of conveying Ken’s helplessness. He is a man lost but who can’t show weakness in front of his sons. Former Fair City star Gary O’Nuallain is well cast as eldest son Jules whose resentment and hatred towards his mother is merely a defence mechanism to mask his hurt at her abandonment. Meanwhile Edmund Tucker, in his stage debut, is engaging as the intellectual youngest son Mark. At times his lack of experience does show but for someone who has never performed in front of audiences before he does a sterling job and it bodes well for any future acting ambitions.
Theatre Upstairs is a perfect setting for a play like this as its intimacy almost makes you feel as if you are in the living room with the trio. I don’t think it would work in a much larger venue as you would lose the sense of voyeurism that you get in a smaller setting. At an hour long this doesn’t outstay its welcome. It manages to find the balance between humour and heartfelt and it is never overly sentimental. It’s not the kind of work that you will analyze for hours after watching it but it is an entertaining and engaging watch that leaves audience members satisfied.
The 3 Kings runs in Theatre Upstairs until Feb 22nd.
Dates: February 11th-22nd 2014 (Tue-Sat 1pm, Thursday/Friday/Saturday 7pm) €10/ 8 Venue:
Theatre Upstairs @ Lanigans, 10 Eden Quay, Dublin 1.