Call it a love story, call it a tragedy. There are times, even, when Hilary Fannin's Famished Castle bears all the familiar trademarks of a melodramatic soap opera. This is the Celtic Tiger hangover in 100 minutes; four self-centred souls, four stories, lots and lots of moping.
There's the ageing father, Tom; once a king of the construction industry, now a broken man whose mind has been ravaged by dementia. His wife, Trixie, lived a terribly unhappy life in his company. Their son, Nat, fled for Berlin at the first sign of trouble, and poor-old Angie is a middle-aged schoolteacher pining for a life that might have been with a bloke who didn't love her.
When Nat and Angie bump into each other at an airport, 10 years after parting ways, they decide to rekindle their love affair. A series of flashbacks in a seafood restaurant remind us of what happened. To them. To Ireland. To life.
There are major problems here. First off, there's no obvious reason as to why Nat (a restrained Raymond Scannell) and Angie (a lost Aislin McGuckin) would be together. No chemistry, no connection, no spark. The timelines and exchanges get confusing; preachy; full of riddles. A determined Eleanor Methven and Vinnie McCabe try their best to make Tom and Trixie human, but there's not a single redeemable character in sight. And then there's the abominable set (see-through curtains, a shark tank and creepy chairs that move of their own accord).
Poorly acted and directed, Famished Castle relies on Nat and Angie's unlikely 'relationship' to do the heavy lifting. The trouble is they may be the most boring couple to have ever ripped each other's clothes off at the theatre. A terribly dozy and lightweight affair, the real concern is that this could be the beginning of a series of rambling, misguided dramas that use Ireland's economic misfortune as a coat hanger. If Fannin's dodgy script is to be the future standard, I'm out.
Running until May 23. HHIII