Howie the Rookie
Axis, Friday 6th September 2019
Howie The Rookie, by Mark O'Rowe, a startlingly beautiful version brought to Axis by Stagemad Theatre Company. This acclaimed piece is a hilarious, pimp-rollin', blood-soaked text has Shakespeare's interiority, Marlowe's viciousness and a cowboy's jangling gait; it's got Joyce's sense of place, Faulkner's sense of language and even a sprinkling of murderously timed fart jokes.
The production features Fintan Kelly who can be seen in season 8 of Game Of Thrones. The play is a diptych that follows Howie (Kelly) on a night out cruising for vengeance, then the Rookie (bruises an' all) as Howie's victim, mate and witness. Andrew Dunphy's subtle lighting design gives the actor a clean stage in front of him, and the rest of the physical production is just Kelly controlling the stage.
The Howie Lee is a hooligan, good with his fists, bad with the ladies. Without preamble, he vaults into a story about crossing a field and spying a friend burning a mattress. Soon this friend draws him into an unlikely vendetta against the man, The Rookie Lee, who must have infested that mattress with scabies. Mark O'Rowe's writing is lyrical and dirty and riotously imaginative. Listen closely and you will hear Joyce in the frequent neologisms — skullduggerous, popsock, dollyness. Hints of his contemporaries Martin McDonagh in the wild, almost farcical violence, and Conor McPherson in the stealthy emphasis on moral choice and responsibility, as when The Rookie Lee worries over his fate. Mark O'Rowe's language is distinct — in its ribaldry, its understatement, its metaphors and, especially, its exuberant, muscular descriptions of impossible battles. A night of pure, epic theatre is in store.
“Mark O'Rowe's extraordinary play drives you to the depths of humanity's horror, then stops your stomach churning by demanding that you laugh” – The Irish Times.
“It is, quite simply, Greek in its power of catharsis while piling laughter. Euripides would be proud to call Mark O'Rowe a brother in art” – Irish Independent.
- Friday 6th September 2019
- Axis Art Centre and Theatre, Main St, Ballymun, Dublin, Ireland