Wednesday, 4 October 2000

The Good Thief by Conor McPherson, Oct 4, 2000

The Good Thief by Conor McPherson
at North Melbourne Town Hall until October 21, 2000
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

If you see nothing else in the Fringe Festival, see The Good Thief. It is uncommon to see a monodrama that is impeccably written, performed and directed. The Good Thief is such a play.

It is written by Irish playwright Conor McPherson, performed by Desmond Connellan and directed by the highly skilled Maeliosa Stafford who was an actor and Artistic Director for Ireland's extraordinary Druid Theatre until coming to Australia in 1993.

The stage is empty but for a rough chair and table. Connellan plays a Dublin thug who intimidates people for his criminal boss. He embarks upon a simple threatening job which escalates into his killing three men with more deaths to follow.

We do not see any of the violent action but it is as vivid to us as if we were there with him.

As he unfolds his tale of violence, mistakes, confusion and horror, Connellan maintains a sense of warmth, innocence and hopefulness. In spite of his terrible crimes, we are somehow compelled to be sympathetic to his plight.

He is still in love with his ex-girlfriend, he tries to protect the wife and child of one of his victims and he mourns the murder of his friend's family.

Part of the horror is our thug's capacity to tell his story with a cool detachment. McPherson's narrative is clean, witty, surprising and filled with powerful and shocking imagery. The character is well-observed and detailed in both the writing and performance.

Connellan is a great find for the Melbourne stage. He maintains a charming, boyish exterior which is a perfect counterpoint to the character's violent unpredictable behaviour.

Stafford allows McPherson's dialogue to speak for itself by keeping the action uncluttered. He highlights the character and the escalating drama of the narrative. Each shift in thought is visible and every moment in the narrative is clearly drawn.

This is a real treat. Go see it!

By Kate Herbert

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