Theatre / “Howie the Rookie”, by Mark O’Rowe, Smith’s Alternative, June 20. Reviewed by ARNE SJOSTEDT.
“HOWIE the Rookie” is a powerful text, and Irish actor Christopher Samuel Carroll gave a tour de force of a performance.
The play reminded me of a happy combination of “Trainspotting”, “Lock Stock” and “Two Smoking Barrels” and some of the more impressionistic aspects of a James Joyce novel. And there in lies the rub. Delivered with a thick Irish brogue, the audience needed to concentrate hard, and it was difficult to follow the impressionistic word smithery of playwright Mark O’Rowe.
To this end, I applied ample energy to the first half – jumping from each description and thought, emotion and action as Samuel Carroll danced an adroit raver trip with O’Rowe’s script, to the back drop of drummer Steve Fitzgerald’s rhythmic
soundscape. It was a marvellous performance, and as art, as poetry, as performance art with poetry – this play was first class.
Come the second act I found it increasingly difficult to follow the plot. I don’t necessarily think this was the fault of the performance, however, I was left asking myself if greater attention could have been given to the fact that such a thick accent made capturing the detail in this Joycian text difficult to an Australian (with only distant Irish heritage). And it is in the detail that the art truly speaks. Yet this was an uncompromising play. Delivered uncompromisingly. Which is perhaps exactly what it needed.