Home > Reviews > The Flags

The Flags



 Insomniac TheatreCat and Fiddle Hotel, Balmain, Sydney 
Saturday, 6 March, 2010
The FlagsTheatre can be anywhere. In this case a few curtains, some plastic seagulls and a lifeguard tower in the lounge bar of the pub take us to a desolate and unattractive part of the Irish coast. Here, JJ or John Joseph (Andrew Mead) and Howie (Scott Grimley) patrol the unpleasant shore, burying the flotsam and jetsam which come their way. This includes seagulls and other animals Howie has shot in his boredom. They dream though of better things- there are jobs going for proper lifeguards at a real beach resort and JJ is completing the applications for both of them. JJ talks about his time as a life guard in California and Howie, the dim-witted orphan, thinks he’s “genius”. All hinges on passing an Inspection by Brenda (Elizabeth Rutter), the official from the Leisure Centre and perhaps reviving a drowned girl (Brooke Davidson).
Bridget O’Connor’s play is Irish to the core with a black humour which Director Maggie Scott allows its own laconic time to develop. The cast adopt Irish accents which in the main they are well maintained, although at times this decreases understanding of the text, with some members of the audience missing vital plot cues. 
Mead is a delight to watch as the blarney spruiking ‘brains man’ of the beach duo. His comic timing and delivery compliment the ‘fecking idjit’ characterisation of Howie by Grimley. The two actors are onstage for most of the play and there is a chemistry between them at all times. There are some very funny moments and lines. Howie and JJ are talking about getting healthy and Howie suggests that “Just saying the word salad makes you feel fit” and they toss the word between them with a lovely comedic precision.When Rutter appears as the inspector the energy and momentum of the piece are put on hold. This is a necessary plot intrusion although Rutter plays the role of Brenda with perhaps a bit too much of the old back handed Irish charm. Davidson, as the girl intent on drowning herself over an unfaithful lover plays a suitably unhinged aquatic bride. 
Although the play ties up the loose ends with some nice reveals in the final stages it was the random iconic humour and the characterisations that stood out. O’Connor’s future work promises well.
The Cat and Fiddle used to house the tiny basement Crypt as a theatre venue. It’s nice to see they are still patrons of the performing arts. Congratulations to Insomniac Theatre on a little bit of craic in Balmain on a Saturday night.  Booking enquiries: insomniact@optusnet.com.au, or (02) 9555 9009 
Until 21 March 2010


Anne-Marie has written 751 articles on AussieTheatre
Read more articles by