The men bicker, grumble and fight, and every so often one of them is called to make yet another attempt at wooing the completely silent title character (Olga Wehrly.) Many people have compared Walsh's play to Beckett, which in my case is a worry, but although I can see the resemblance Mikel Murphy's production for the most part holds the interest with some impressive performances, especially from Buggy and Monaghan. There's a poetic quality to the writing so it's apt that the programme is the playtext as this could be one of those plays worth dipping into at a later date. Unfortunately, and especially as the play goes on, there's rather a lot of lengthy speeches (each man gets at least one) and both Andy and I admitted these didn't hold our attention; and really the strength of the show is in the interaction between the characters so when that goes for a while a lot of the play's appeal does too. But Walsh maintains a few surprises up his sleeve and I defy anyone who doesn't know in advance to predict what form the self-styled Alpha Male Quinn's wooing of Penelope will take. An enigmaitc show with a lot of dark humour, Penelope is worth seeing if only so you'll have an opinion of it - I can see how some people might take a dislike to it and see it as pretentious, and can also see why people might be impressed by its strengths but I must admit I'm surprised by just how strong the reaction either way seems to have been.
Penelope by Enda Walsh is booking until the 5th of March at Hampstead Theatre, followed by a run at the Studio Theatre, Washington DC.