Review of From Both Hips
By Mark O’Rowe
Directed by John Craven
For tickets / schedule :
Main Stage West, Sebastopol
RUN: May 19 – June 4, 2017
RATING: 4 of 5 stars
(May 27, 2017)
Accidentally shot during a drug bust, Paul returns home an invalid, determined to make the cop pay for his mistake. Using an inventive technique of including phone conversations to transition between scenes, giving additional context to the story, Mark O’Rowe’s play has crackling dialogue and relentless pacing.
Profoundly flawed human beings inhabit this dark comedy—Theresa, who is lonely enough to have an affair just to be noticed, co-dependent Liz who hangs onto her friends with leech-like tenacity, Willy’s lack of self-awareness leading to flashes of anger, and Paul’s despicable attitude toward others. What they have in common is a desire to be accepted and loved, a theme paralleled by a casually discussed article on whether or not dogs are capable of affection, which is brought up throughout the play.
Lydia Revelos as Liz hovers through scenes—a coiled spring waiting for her moment. She brings across a personality that believes she is acting out of good intentions, oblivious to the disregard of others as the odd one out. Ilana Niernberger’s anxious Theresa is brilliant in a moment of misinterpretation when she thinks Liz has discovered the affair, only to realize it is the dog they are discussing. Her mounting tension and over excited imagination regarding the break-in is both amusing and ominous, considering her fears have foundation in actual incidents.
Sam Coughlin (Willy) and Alanna Weatherby (Irene) make a solid team. With direction from John Craven, their tenderness toward each other, small comforting gestures and strained emotion during arguments shows a marriage with foundation to it, despite superficial problems. When cross-examined about where Willy goes when upset, Irene insists he comes home to her, and that pronouncement is believable from what we see of the couple.
In contrast, the marriage of Paul (Chris Ginesi) and Adele (Nora Summers) has been shattered by a combination of his ego and her coldness. She prefers to depend on a friend in her illness, rather than admitting how far gone she is and asking for help. He could care less about what she is going through, and believes he is the primary victim—after all, they weren’t the ones who were shot in the hip.
From Both Hips is a reminder not to become self consumed when feeling alone and abandoned; the toxic relationships caused by reaching out to the wrong people in destructive ways harm all those involved. It is easy to laugh at the shenanigans, and think we are nothing like these nasty sort of characters, but they are exaggerated versions of people we know, perhaps ourselves, and we can learn from their mistakes. Don’t miss the United States premiere of this thought provoking and disturbingly amusing Irish play.