Lally the Scut
by Abbie Spallen
MAC Theatre Belfast
Until 2nd May 2015
This play was much heralded, biggest cast, largest company and all the surrounding debate about cuts to budgets. Certainly Tinderbox assembled some of our top actors and Abbie Spallen has a fine portfolio of writing yet for me it was too tangled in the message, I had to concentrate so much I began to lose the drift if that makes sense.
The script is fast-moving and the past is reflected in the present, the boy trapped down a well is Northern Ireland trapped in a place of no hope, the press come and take advantage of our story but it’s a slow story so eventually they turn away and leave us to our own devices.
The church too take advantage in an unsavory scene where a priest rapes the very pregnant mother of the trapped child. The mother-in-law slits the throat of local politics in the shape of the baker and underlying all of this is the suspicion of the village people that the mother, or the father, has put the child there on purpose. Why? To repeat what happened to her 20 years ago when she genuinely fell into a hole and became an international story, fame and fortune followed. Is this what she hoped for again? Does the boy get out alive? I don’t know. Will we ever escape the past? I don’t know.
Reflecting the Troubles and attitudes of politics the play is heavily allegorical, full of metaphor which is ok but the overwhelming use of the ‘f’ word and the ‘c’ word became like a stun gun against the temple. You may think it’s petty but I needed to know if was I over reacting so I counted them in the script, I reached 114. For me it loses impact when such language is used to this extent, it’s a distraction.
Because I think it’s unfair to give only one view, I took a straw poll of the audience as they left and sadly it wasn’t positive but there again, you have to see for yourself and make up your own mind. Personally I thought at two and a half hours this was too long, too involved and too dependent on shock value.