The Big Fellah

Fast, funny but with a very serious side, too, Richard Bean’s sharp and unobtrusively informative new play for Out of Joint follows the fortunes of a small  New York based IRA cell for almost fifteen years on either side of the 1987 Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombings in Northern Ireland.

From fundraising and counting out bucketfuls of donated cash after Bloody Sunday in 1972 to stuffing teddy bears with detonating devices decades later, he charts the changes in their lives and the events back in Ireland which mould their attitudes to their membership of a violent faction which, as Big Fellah Costello warns New York fireman Michael (the latest recruit) entails “selling your soul for a lifetime of pain”

It’s his Bronx apartment which becomes the new safe house where Rory Keenan’s excellent, fast-talking Ruari (previously banged up in Long Kesh for his part in the shooting of a British soldier and now with ambitions to become legal and a practising architect) and none-too-bright, homophobic NYPD officer Tom Billy meet Finbar Lynch’s sinisterly charismatic Costello who turns up periodically with orders from above.

The slick dialogue sugars the dark, deadly side to the IRA’s activity – even when Fred Ridgeway’s deadly security officer puts in an appearance from the old country –  and Bean’s mordant humour proves as lethal as any hitman in Max Stafford-Clark fluid production which surely deserves a much longer life.


Lyric Hammersmith, King Street, W6 0QL
0871 221 1726
Tube: Hammersmith
Till 16th October

Review: Louise Kingsley