Ballyturk: a gorgeous and dreamy meditation on existence (4 stars)


Simon Donaldson and Grant O'Rourke / credit: John Johnston

Enda Walsh play is revived in grandstanding style

Enda Walsh's beautiful play Ballyturk is like a paranoid bromance, with two pin-sharp performances from Simon Donaldson as One, a haunted, hollow eyed twitch of a man, and Grant O'Rourke as Two, reminiscent of Buster Keaton in his sweet sadness.

Walsh's staccato lyricism is more than matched by the duo's brittle physical comedy, and Danny Krass' jarring sounds of unidentified insects and crackles ramp up the sense of unease. The possibly imagined town Ballyturk is like another character, an interloper in the home, congealing around the men like another skin.

The series of town characters the men portray fill up the room with lascivious quips and simmering malevolence: in their film noir styled vignettes, a yellow jumper is a red rag to a bully (sic) and oversexed blowsy ladies serve innuendo with the tinned peas in corner shops.

Dance sequences to 80s pop are like palette cleansers between the violence, all deftly choreographed by Darren Brownlie, and reinforce the pair as a comedy double act out of time, yet intuitively in step. So when Wendy Seager's magnificently louche Lynchian character, Three (a literal third wheel with a hellish proposal) appears from the cracks in a wall, the circularity of the script is rendered complete. Nature's savagery, Walsh suggests, always comes in threes, like a cruel waltz.

Michael Taylor's set, gorgeously complemented by animation from Nick Murray Willis, feels like a familial bedroom with claustrophobia painted over the cracks – a reminder of the hurt only the closest can give. Impermanence and misery has never seemed so dreamy.


A world is out there, imagined within the four walls of a room inhabited by two men. Will they ever escape to see it in reality? 'How can I talk about Ballyturk knowing that it's only ever inside and nowhere else?' Ballyturk is Enda Walsh's moving meditation on the brevity of our existence - a mundane village with echoes…

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