Paul T Davies reviews David Ireland’s play Ulster American now playing at The Traverse Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe.
David Ireland’s stunning new play builds on the reputation he made with the award winning Cyprus Avenue. Jay, an Oscar winning actor, is meeting Leigh, an ambitious theatre director, who has cast Jay in a new play by Ruth, a Northern Irish playwright. They all dream of success, but as the situation escalates it becomes obvious that no one is going to win any awards on this gig. Jay sees it as an opportunity to connect with his Catholic roots, but his dreadful accent is only a minor problem as Ruth has written about the Troubles from a Protestant point of view.
This is a comedy that leaves you open mouthed with laughter and shock in equal measure, as Ireland goes to places even Martin Mcdonagh may fear to shed! Due to a question Jay poses, which I won’t reveal, Ireland raises the stakes higher than Arthur’s Seat, and the pay off is incredible. An excellent cast land every punchline perfectly and the insenserity of certain political correctness is torn apart as each character crosses every line. Darrell D’Silva is excellent as man spreading, ego driven, opinionated actor Jay, a bear of insenserity prowling around his own fame. Robert Jack is hilarious as director Leigh, who claims he is such a feminist he wishes he was trans, and Lucianne McEvoy outstanding as playwright Ruth, refusing to let the men have the upper hand.
Ireland takes no prisoners as he mercilessly lays into hypocrisy in the mother of all arguments that delights with its destruction of theatre, Hollywood, identify and culture. The audience genuinely shout out in shock, such is the delight in the words said. This may be the play of the Fringe, if not the year, fight for a return ticket and hope for a tour!