The Last Corner Shop on Misery Hill – Smock Alley – Review
1 – 6 Jul | 8pm | 3pm matinee on Sat | Boys’ School
We meet the two brothers on an average morning in their local corner shop. Joey (Barry John Kinsella) is in good spirits and puts on music as he sweeps the shop. His brother Mick (Owen O’Gorman) seems in a more serious mood and keeps turning off Joey’s radio. Mick has noticed that the shop has been losing money in the last few weeks and thinks someone may be taking it from the till. The obvious culprit is Johno (Colm Lennon), a local homeless man that visits their store. It is at this point that Joey mentions he can’t find his favourite socks, a pair of Boca Junior socks that have come straight from Brazil. These socks and the missing money are the source of much discussion throughout the rest of the play!
This is a new work by Polliwog Theatre Collective, a company that was formed in 2015 by a “team of multidisciplinary artists and producers”. The play was written by Mack Mirahmadi and it is a dark comedy that explores some unusual characters in the vicinity of Misery Hill. These characters visit the shop and have brief and curious interactions with the brothers.
The set includes a shop counter and till at one side of the stage and a shopping trolley at the other. There is shelving behind the counter and a variety of products stacked to create the confused world of the local shop!
The play is a bit uneven, and there are many scenes that could have been easily cut without losing anything from the overall story. It was quite ambitious for a new work to be two hours long and some moments felt unnecessary at best. There is also the obvious disparity in the ages of the two ‘brothers’ which was barely credible. It may have made more sense to call them uncle and nephew or some other arrangement.
Despite its flaws, there are moments of genuine hilarity contained within the play! While it is an unusual choice to make a homeless man the butt of many of the jokes, the character of Johno, played by Colm Lennon, has many of the best lines. He is an impressive physical actor and exudes a cheeky charm that would be impossible not to enjoy. The other character of note was Dina, played by Eimear Keating, who showed admirable spirit and intensity.
The story starts very much rooted in the banal, as Joey obsesses about his lost socks and Mick over the money, but these trappings of the mundane only hide the more unusual aspects. By the end of the play, reality has been jettisoned as they embrace the absurd. There is very little new comedy on stage in Ireland and this theatre company deserve some credit for this alone. It’s an unusual work that shows potential.
WRITTEN BY : Mack Mirahmadi
DIRECTED BY : Ciaran Gallagher & Mack Mirahmadi
CAST : Barry John Kinsella, Colm Lennon, Denise O’Connor, Eimear Keating, Owen O’Gorman