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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Irish Blood, English Heart
Trafalgar Studios     Spring 2011

Two estranged brothers meet to dispose of their dead father's accumulated belongings. The poorer resents his brother's success, which he feels was achieved at his expense, and also has a more sentimentalised image of the father.

His wife hopes that a reconciliation might lead to the richer brother helping them out economically, but all that really happens is the exposure of what an absolute bastard the old man was and how both sons were emotionally crippled by him.

It is, of course, Arthur Miller's The Price.

Playwright Darren Murphy has moved the story to London and made some other cosmetic changes - in place of cop and surgeon we have cab driver and successful author, a fourth character is a diabetic young man rather than a diabetic old man - and his ending is a little darker than Miller's.

I'm not implying any chicanery here. Darren Murphy has his own vision and story to tell, and the similarities may well be totally coincidental. But essentially he has rewritten The Price, and Murphy is not a great a playwright as Miller.

When you are not ticking off the moment-by-moment parallels to Miller's play, there are some pleasures to be drawn from this version. The core story, of a man forced to realise who the real enemy of his life was, is moving, though Murphy does not allow his cab driver the accompanying experience of seeing his own life in a new and comforting light.

Though director Caitriona McLaughlin has encouraged Ian Groombridge as the cabbie and Carolyn Tomkinson as his wife to signify and externalise their acting too much, so we are more aware of the performers doing capital-A Acting than of the characters, Howard Teale as the writer has several strong and true-feeling scenes.

Francesca Rodrigues' set, the father's cluttered lock-up, features a blown-up map of south London that kept distracting me and a classic old tube map I lust after.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of Irish Blood English Heart - Trafalgar Studios 2011

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