Payback at Bewleys Cafe Theatre

October 28, 2013

The overwhelming sense I’ve gotten from shows in the Fringe thus far is that the party’s over. The question is, where do we go from here? Amsterdam is the destination picked by Mary and Kitty in Payback!, a comedic farce with deeper roots, written and starring Maria McDermottroe and Marion O’Dwyer as part of the Show in the Bag series.

The story of a developer’s wife and her widowed school chum and their revenge on the property magnets who’ve brought this country to its knees, it’s the latest in a series of plays to deal with the theme of friendship and freedom and how the two relate. And while it has more than a liberal dose of hen house humour sprinkled throughout, it also properly paves the road that leads to both characters packing their bags and leaving the memories, levies and taxes behind.

It’s strongest in its monologued moments, when Kitty (McDermottroe) recalls her husband’s transformation, from a small builder to a big time developer and her own complicit role in their marriages nip/tuck, while Mary (O’Dwyer) furiously recalls the indignity of her husband’s last days. There are also humorous nods to the ageing process, a well-executed moral conundrum and a credible connection between both women. If they focused more on this instead of overplaying their menopausal ailments and trying to set up set pieces that don’t deliver as big a laugh as they might expect, the play would benefit greatly. As it is, it’s a crowd pleaser, that benefits from Iseult Golden’s subtle direction.


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