Tron Theatre, Glasgow
A spirit of Eden pervades throughout Enda Walsh’s deceptively madcap play, first seen in 2014 and revived here for the Tron by way of Andy Arnold’s production. Here we take a peek behind very closed doors, where two seemingly nameless men embark on their daily domestic rituals, incorporating a series of dance moves to 1980s pop hits before they role-play imagined scenes from the world outside.
The series of routines that follow look somewhere between Morecambe and Wise’s breakfast sketch and a Samuel Beckett off-cut set in an undiscovered suburb of The League of Gentleman’s Royston Vasey neighbourhood. Into this steps a worldly-wise deity who looks like an insurance salesman, but in their smarmy hard-sell, holds the fate of both men in their hands.
Cocooned away from the world outside but with their lives flashing before them, there’s a wonderfully obsessive innocence to Simon Donaldson and Grant O’Rourke’s co-dependent double act. As the birds and the bees fly through their decrepit and barely furnished room, Wendy Seager’s snake-in-the-grass uninvited guest becomes a slyly corrupting influence. In the end, the bubble they’ve created for themselves, possibly the result of some mind-wiping experiment or long-term kidnap by Seager’s Big Brother-like presence, is no longer sustainable. As they wake up to reality, that bubble bursts like a leftover balloon from a children’s party.
There’s always a gloriously unfiltered audaciousness to Walsh’s writing, which is here offset by a sense of everyday existential dread and the absurd constructions we hide ourselves inside to survive it. If Ballyturk is a state of mind in which Donaldson and O’Rourke are runaways from their own scrambled psyche, the play’s final moment is a heart-rending nod to how the world keeps turning as the baton is passed for the next life to come.
The Herald, October 8th 2018