The Walworth Farce ★★ Southwark Playhouse | Feb 17 - Mar 18, 2023

The Walworth Farce isn't a farce. It is a dark story about two boys held captive by their father and forced daily to re-enact the traumatic events of their childhood. The thought of two children being abused in this manner by a parent is simply appalling, and the fact that their abuse takes the form of being forced to act out the past in a farcical manner isn't really amusing. Characteristic of a farce is the frantic pace of the action, and while here the play within a play certainly meets that standard, it ultimately fails to engage the audience. Within the story the boys are condemned to repeat, they change character so rapidly, simply by donning wigs or moustaches, that it is never quite clear who some of the characters are or what their relationship is to each other. Also, this farce/trauma narrative doesn't seem to be developed in a linear fashion so it becomes doubly difficult to understand, and ultimately to care very much, about the story being enacted. Indeed, rather than trying to piece together the events of the absurd play within a play, one is left with an overriding horror at the boys' present abuse. The Walworth Farce is well acted with Dan Skinner putting in a menacing performance as the father, Dinny, and Emmet Byrne and Killian Coyle being discomfortingly abject as the boys, Sean and Blake. Anisha Fields' set design is clever, but sight lines are probably an issue for some seats in the theatre. Ultimately, The Walworth Farce seems to be an uneasy meeting of Harold Pinter and Michael Frayn that probably won't satisfy the audiences of either writer.

Rated: ★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by David Jensen.

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