Little Thing, Big Thing

★★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 10 Aug 2015

While the writing here is firmly in the tradition of James Joyce and Flann O'Brien, Little Thing, Big Thing most closely resembles a Depression-era American road narrative, at one point very deliberately using the phrase "one fine mess" to evoke Laurel and Hardy.

Thanks to a mix-up involving rolls of film, a nun and reformed career criminal find themselves fighting for their lives. Chased across Ireland by a former commander of the genocidal Nigerian army, the pair warm to each other, form a bond and finally achieve some degree of personal redemption.

Director Jim Culleton presents us with an intentionally contrived narrative, its almost post-modern use of genre tropes calling to mind the work of Martin McDonagh. The joy here is in how Sorcha Fox and Donal O'Kelly interact with each other in a variety of guises. O'Kelly in particular has a gift for physical comedy, and exploits it to the hilt here, particularly as he's seen staggering the stage in agony, petrol trickling down his back.

Both change character with a fluidity matching their use of language, a delirious swirl of drunken onomatopoeia and world weary pessimism. Such a mix of the profane and poetic could be considered a cliché of Irish theatre, but the balance struck here is brilliantly judged. This is wonderful, economical storytelling.