The title sounds whimsical but Greta Garbo Came To Donegal
is actually a statement of fact: During the sixties Garbo did indeed go to rural Ireland vhen she vanted to be alone, and from this Frank McGuinness creates a story that sees the reclusive star spend a few days getting involved in the affairs of a rather complicated household. The Hennessy family used to own the large house but financial problems meant they had to sell it to wealthy English artist Matthew (Daniel Gerroll.) In a fairly heavy-handed metaphor for the politics of the time, the family are now servants in the house they used to own. Occupying a sort of limbo between masters and servants is cockney former boxer Harry (Tom McKay) who's the gardener but also Matthew's boyfriend. So it's not an entirely unprepared household for the sexually ambiguous movie star to arrive in, supposedly because she's thinking of buying the house.
The heart of the family and of the play is Paulie, the old maid ("bachelor," Garbo corrects her) very well played by Michelle Fairley. She's also the one to instantly attract Garbo's attention, and the two women start a flirtation that's obviously doomed from the start. The script's very funny a lot of the time, although in the second act it veers dangerously close to soap opera and it suffers from multiple ending syndrome, which drags things a bit. But Nicolas Kent's production on Robert Jones' beautifully designed set is for the most part entertaining and has great performances all round. Inevitably I was particularly interested in Tom McKay as the laddish gay boy, he's rather lovely all over. And when I say lovely all over, what I mean is
Yes, the first of 2010! And it's his first scene, quite a funny one too. I was in the front row as well, so that was quite entertaining. He turned his back to the audience fairly quickly but I think he's circumcised. Oh did I forget to do a TMI warning? Oh you know by now what to expect if you read this ungodly blog.
I couldn't find a photo of McKay from this play on "the internet" so this one will have to do - he's dressed as a soldier so I'm not complaining anyway.
From the programme notes it looks like he's another one we'll be seeing on Being Human
soon as well. Speaking of people who've been on telly stuff, Garbo is played (appropriately inscrutably) by Caroline Lagerfelt, at the moment probably best known as Serena's über-bitch grandmother in Gossip Girl
, but she was also Spike's mother in Buffy
! Which means after all these years, Tony Head has been pipped to the post as my first Buffy
cast member on stage by just over a week (but I guess he still gets to be my first regular
I feel this has strayed from the strict bounds of a theatre review. I'd try to bring it back on-topic but this is just how it goes sometimes, innit?Greta Garbo Came To Donegal
by Frank McGuinness is booking until the 20th of February at the Tricycle Theatre.