The felt-tip and sticky-taped on V shapes that adorn the dilapidated living room occupied by the two warring siblings at the centre of Martin McDonagh's 1997 play say everything about their relationship. As daubed on by a bear-like Valene marking territory from his biscuit tin of booze to his mantlepiece of religious figurines, the V could be for victory, however pyrrhic, over his equally volatile brother Coleman. If not, it could be marking out the v that divides gladiatorial combatants before they go into battle.
This is evident from even the most casual of sparring as Coleman and Valene return from their father's funeral with Father Welsh to act as referee as much as failed spiritual guide. Temptation for them all comes in the form of teenage wild child Girleen. Left to their own devices, however, Coleman and Valene continue a tug of war that increasingly becomes a very dangerous matter of life and death.
Andy Arnold's new production of McDonagh's manic sit-com adds nuance to an increasingly crazed situation, never allowing Keith Fleming and David Ganly's ferocious double act as Coleman and Valene to over-heat in the way that Valene's figurines do after they're thrown unceremoniously into the stove like born again tin soldiers at the gates of Hell. Biblical references are there too in Michael Dylan's Father Welsh and Kirsty Punton's Girleen. These are at their most obvious in the
rally of confession and forgiveness that sees the brothers square up to each other across the kitchen table. Like grand-masters in search of checkmate, as they attempt to reconcile their differences, the only thing left for them to have faith in is each other.
The Herald, July 11th 2016