Love, Peace and Robbery

Magic Roundabout Theatre Co presents 'Love, Peace and Robbery' by Liam Heylin.

Magic Roundabout Theatre Co presents 'Love, Peace and Robbery' by Liam Heylin.

That stalwart of many a crime caper, ‘the one last heist’, is used to hilarious effect in a new production of Liam Heylin’s Love, Peace and Robbery. With a distinct Limerick accent as well as setting, two bungling ex-cons and a talking terrier take the audience along for the getaway ride.

Love, Peace and RobberyDarren and Gary have just been released from Limerick Prison but their freedom is limited by a court-ordered substance abuse program and curfews. Over cans and spliffs, the men re-think the past, vowing to right wrongs to girlfriends and children. Darren wants to emigrate to join his ex in America and Gary wants to send his stepson on a soccer trip. They want to go straight but being short on funds and long on temptation is its own sentence. If only there was a way to make some easy money…

Originally produced by Cork’s Meridian Theatre Company in 2007, the beauty of the script is that it is easily transferable to any place or time. Life’s losers and the hapless situations they have to deal with are the same everywhere. This version was heavy on swearwords and Limerick vernacular. If comedy rap-duo, the Rubberbandits, have taught us anything it’s that stereotyping and physical comedy with a sense of the absurd can be very amusing. Director, Darren Maher, plays on this and the audience lapped it up.

Though the men are all bravado, the play also addresses the collateral damage. Gary’s drinking and repeated incarceration have lost him the respect of everyone besides his young children. Darren’s attitude to prison is that it is unavoidable for someone like him with no education or prospects. The existential dilemma at the centre is: they will never truly escape but can they turn their lives around; should they even try? This is touched upon but does not infringe on the upbeat tone and conclusion. The twin clich├ęs, ‘ordinary decent criminal’ and ‘honour among thieves’ are perhaps overplayed in the script - but Crime and Punishment it is not, nor does it try to be.

Maher’s direction was tight and fast-paced. The scenes were snappy, with the lights going down and a quick set rearrangement by the actors, before leading straight into a new one. The set was simple but versatile. One large cube and three smaller rectangles created a multitude of settings and props from walls to motorbikes. The lighting created tension in the interview scenes with the interrogation laying the characters bare.

Love, Peace and RobberyThe cast did very well. Myles Breen has a canny ability to play a multiple characters (demonstrated masterfully in Island Theatre Company’s Under Milk Wood, 2004). His turns as a teenage boy, a Garda, a weary girlfriend and a thief who wants to steal an ATM with “a JVC” were all memorable but none so much as his role as Heskey the wheaten terrier. It must be hard to portray the behaviour of a dog but Breen took to it with energy. One of the comic highlights was when Darren was smoking drugs (the fumes portrayed by bubbles being blown was creative) and Heskey starts to talk. The interplay between a hazy Darren and Heskey’s refined manner, with her evaluating her life and saying things like “I never knew my father” while he scratched her stomach, was brilliant.

Jason Reddan, has performed widely as a rapper but excels in his first acting role. As Darren, his movements, gestures and way of speaking were the most natural of the three. Playing Gary, James Moroney’s comic timing was good and his character also had to show the most vulnerability, which he achieved. Reddan and Moroney embodied the swaggering attitude and loose morality of petty thieves convincingly. They had likeability too and play would not have worked without that.

Magic Roundabout is a relatively new company, founded in 2010 by Darren Maher and Zeb Moore. They impressed with debut production, “stand-up tragedy” Spinal Krapp, written by Maher and starring Moore. Earlier this year, the company did a rehearsed reading (one of the best I’ve seen for production values) of cult play, Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, and with Love, Peace and Robbery they present a funny, enjoyable romp about love and theft. In their careful but eclectic choices, Magic Roundabout is a worthy addition to the melting pot of Limerick’s vibrant theatre scene.

Rachael Finucane is a freelance journalist and arts blogger based in Limerick.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Love, Peace and Robbery by Liam Heylin

24 - 26 Nov, 2011

Produced by Magic Roundabout Theatre Company
In Belltable Arts Centre

Directed by Darren Maher

Lighting: Jay Kavanagh

Sound: Loren Hartnett

With: Myles Breen, James Moroney and Jason Reddan.