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Soho Theatre, London

Upstairs at the Soho Theatre, which provides a space for fringe productions to be staged in the middle of London, the one-man and two-women troupe from Dublin that calls itself Rough Magic is putting on a show that may, as the blurb puts it, be a “slice of 21st century Ireland”, but is really in the tradition of the English (indeed the Whitehall) farce.

Indeed, it is a bedroom farce.  A sex-obsessed couple who cannot find in each other the “infinite variety” that Antony found so compelling in Cleopatra, decide that a threesome would put the sparkle back into their relationship.  A scatty artist picked up at a night club is game for a one-night stand, which turns out to be pregnant with unexpected possibilities.

With a recommended ‘15½’ rating, this is not a show to take one’s children to during the school holidays.  There is bad language, some simulated sex and – far more shocking – simulated giving of birth.  There is also the more traditional stuff of farce, with far-fetched misunderstandings, unlikely coincidences, and much dodging and diving in order to avoid unwanted confrontations.  A novel conceit, however, is the male protagonist’s profession.  He is a statistician, which is the excuse for his making a series of hilarious calculations about the statistical probability of the unlikely events which are happening around him.

Rough Magic, with little in the way of props, are able to conjure up the missing scenes in a way that would have impressed Prospero, and were greeted tonight with a well-deserved tempest of applause at the end of their frenetic (and farcical) performance.

  • Comedy
  • By Mark Cantan
  • Directed by Lynne Parker
  • Cast: Rough Magic
  • Soho Theatre, London
  • Until 31st August 2014
  • Time: 19.00 (Running time: 1½ hours)
  • Review by Richard McKee
  • 15th August 2014

About The Author

Trustee & Reviewer (UK)

Richard McKee is a lawyer, and used to be a judge, but despite that (or because of that) he likes comedy, cabaret and pantomime.  These are the things that he reviews for Plays to See, for which – in view of his great age – he is also a trustee.  He leaves the serious stuff to the young!  But seriously, though, he thinks it is a great idea for young reviewers to hone their critical faculties and communication skills by writing for Plays to See, and feels privileged to be involved in its current expansion.

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