Review: Ballyturk by Enda Walsh, at the National Theatre, Lyttelton stage

Cillian Murphy and Mikel Murfi. Photo Patrick Redmond

Cillian Murphy and Mikel Murfi. Photo Patrick Redmond

Describing Ballyturk is a challenge, a riddle and an emotional rollercoaster disguised as an intellectual exercise: it’s like having an existential crisis and a stroke and a panic attack, all rolled into one but with songs and dancing and talc powder and yellow jumpers and jenga towers of biscuits and fierce words and fiercer silences.  12 seconds lasting a lifetime. 12 seconds of a lifetime, yet too short for any questions to be answered. If time is worthless when it is aplenty, does it worth more when running out? Do we forget before we know what to remember? If the now consumes everything, what is the value of yesterday?

Enda Walsh the creator and Enda Walsh the destroyer sets up a crib sheet of answers before we know the questions, and then tears them apart. He can build the most perfect worlds of words, and then kicks and stomps on them, because they are too seductive and beautiful. When in doubt, dance. And sweat and run. And do something very very silly. Two men try to outrun the problems they don’t know they have. It’s kind of weird, but in a treadmill of a world I suddenly saw my life. Everyone’s life.  Life doesn’t make sense. Not enough meaning or too much. Never the right amount.

Cillian Murphy is a man of supple fragility, with a bounce-back ball of a soul. Mikel Murfi thinks he is strong until he crumbles to dust. Neither have names. Is it because they forgot or we did? Stephen Rea is seductive with a low grumble of an aura, like an earthquake from very far away.

It’s hauntingly funny and with the soul of a clown who wants to be an angel. You know what I mean? Yes you do.

4 responses to “Review: Ballyturk by Enda Walsh, at the National Theatre, Lyttelton stage

  1. I do know what you mean! I saw this in Dublin before it transferred and was left wordless by it, so you’ve already done a better job than me at talking about it! Tough one to review but I think you captured some of the profound chaos of it all.
    Em

    • Thank you. I was wondering whether I was writing all nonsense, and maybe I was but glad it made a bit of sense to someone.

  2. Saw this at the National Theatre (a one time center of theatrical excellence) in London last night and was astonished!

    I think my fifty year love affair with live theater has been terminated by this dire event.

    Banal, pretentious drivel, badly acted (indication, two dimensional, shallow) with the directorial intelligence of a first year undergraduate, might, in a kindly way, sum it up.

    Samuel Beckett or James Joyce this is not and it does not even belong in the same universe as their genius.

    This was a truly painful experience that has put a big question mark over my
    theater going and puts into question why on earth British taxpayer money should be used to subsidize such tosh.

    I am a retired professional actor, sometime director and writer with over forty years theater experience.

    I could go on and on and on and on like last nights event, but will leave off as Ballyturk is stultifyingly boring enough without me adding to the worlds pain!

  3. This is the most perfect Ballyturk review I ever read. and I’ve read LOADS. Seen it twice at the National, tremendeously moved and shuttered by it. It makes no sense at all and at the sme time it makes all the sense in the world.
    Had some crazy ideas and interpretations about this play. Still do! keep thinking about it once in a while. Hope it’ll never fade away.

    Thank you so much for this post! xx

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