Adelaide Festival Review 2019: Ulster American

What: Ulster American

Where: Dunstan Playhouse

When: Fri 15 March (6pm), Sat 16 March (4pm & 9.30pm), Sun 17 March (5pm)

Cost: $79 (Standard), $67 (Friends), $64 (Concession), $40 (Under 30)

The seemingly cosy apartment of a West End theatre director transforms into a pressure cooker following the unveiling of caustic truths and uncomfortable realisations. In the same vein as David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow and David Rabe’s Hurlyburly, David Ireland’s Ulster American is a vicious takedown of insincere, repugnant Hollywood and theatre types that quickly descends into chaos and violence.

Resembling a current day Mickey Rourke (both physically and sartorially), former Oscar winner Jay (Darrell D’Silva) is clearly thrilled to take the leading role in a play that he thinks will connect him to his Irish roots. A vulgarian with a lack of personal boundaries, Jay sidles close to the theatre director, Leigh (Robert Jack), and probes him until he participates in Jay’s revolting hypothetical scenario. The moment playwright Ruth (Lucianne McEvoy) enters Leigh’s apartment, any hint of unpleasantness ceases…temporarily.

A wild, vermillion-haired individual with an unyielding personality, Ruth is awestruck by Jay’s talk of Hollywood and Tarantino. Leigh, however, puts an end to this friendly banter by divulging to Ruth Jay’s earlier heinous episode. This leak transforms Jay’s biggest fan into his most vexing foil.

It becomes apparent that all three characters are in their own way, ghastly humans. Credit to Ireland for creating such odious creatures who spit venom at alarming frequency (we have never heard “rape”, nor “c—-”, uttered this many times, and so soon after International Women’s Day), leaving all beyond redemption. The cast should be commended for achieving the trio’s mental and physical highs and lows that delighted, shocked, and disgusted the audience.

3 / 5 stars

-Masya Zabidi

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