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Theatre Review: Ulster American ***

Michael Cox reviews 'a theatrical thrill ride'.

David Ireland’s Ulster American starts with a bang and refuses to stop. Two men, an American film star and an English director, are in a hotel room awaiting the arrival of the playwright, a woman from Northern Ireland. They’re passing time talking crap, using colourful language and running the gambit of taboo topics. But a line is crossed when the actor asks a bold, inappropriate question. The writer soon arrives, but a meeting that was supposed to be about the production of a new play quickly spirals out of control.

In truth, this is less plot device and more excuse for Ireland to have three people fight about everything: politics, history, identity and gender roles, to name but a few. And it is vicious—the play seems to have taken a licence to offend with glee, resulting in a production that is more about comedic mud slinging than it is about character growth. There are plenty of laughs, most of them a result from shock than wit.

And it works. This might be down more to its three excellent performers: Darrell D’Silva as actor Jay, Robert Jack as director Leigh Carver and Lucianne McEvoy and writer Ruth Davenport. All three have an excellent rapport with each other and relish in Ireland’s script and language. None of them are particularly likeable, which might make seeing each character’s denigration that much easier—and enjoyable.

More theatrical thrill ride than character study or plot boiler, director Gareth Nicholls’ production of Ulster American is a blast that seems happy to be an equal offender of everyone. It might not linger much in the mind afterwards, but it’s sure served with a wicked kick.

Ulster American performs at the Traverse Two until August 26th. Check website for specific times.

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