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THIS NEW PLAY IS FAR FROM RUBBISH

Black bin bags fall from the sky. The rubbish is piling up beside the old waste ground in a Dublin estate, and while a handful of residents - one of them carrying a football - mull over the size of a wandering herring ("it's like a f***ing dinosaur"), young Gary nurses a hangover in his kitchen. The Waste Ground Party doesn't waste time.

Writer Shaun Dunne's Abbey debut is a promising theatrical display, combining harsh realism (money troubles, feuding neighbours, crumbling futures) with the odd metaphorical marvel.

The basic premise is that Gary (Alan Mahon) has returned home from college, taking a break from "the course" so as to spend some time doing all the things his mother Bernie (Ger Ryan) hates to see him do. Namely, hanging out with Martin (Lloyd Cooney), who's keen to start up a football league for the local kids, to kick-off just as the new playground (built over the aforementioned waste area) opens.

There's going to be an opening party and everything, and struggling single mother Denise (Louise Lewis) is helping out.

Nosey Bernie is a proper Sherlock Holmes, and she's determined to get to the bottom of those mysterious bags, which are causing a right nuisance. She warns Gary about hanging out with Martin, but as we soon discover, the real troublemaker is right under her nose.

RAINFALL

So, things are sort of messed up. The boys' mothers (Bernie simply despises Martin's ma, Tina) have already missed their chance in life, and now they're afraid that their sons will do the same. Arguments turn to fist-fights. The rubbish attracts rats. There's even a bit of rainfall.

Niamh Lunny's convincing set doubles up as a street corner (with a huge back wall) and Bernie's kitchen. It looks a bit like a soap, and it probably plays out like one too, only, young Dunne has the decency to give us characters that talk like real people. Important, that.

His dialogue is sharp, insightful and occasionally witty. There are minor explosions - Bernie almost bursts a vein when she discovers a bloody shirt in the sink; the excellent Ger Ryan going all out to steal the show from the lads. A permanently cross Cooney (watch this guy) eventually loses the rag, too.

It's a busy piece and one that, thankfully, doesn't stray too far from the ground. Again, Dunne has stumbled upon something real. Something important. A good play? Well, yes, there's that. But also a career, we suspect.

Running until November 22 HHHHI


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