Review: Flights, Omnibus Theatre

A bold and sometimes brutal look at life in small-town Ireland, Flights is running at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham now

“All the things that I could do… 
All the ways it could turn out.”

It’s either feast or famine when it comes to John O’Donovan’s play titles, from the iconic If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You to Flights, now opened at Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre after a tour of Ireland. And it is perhaps indicative of his playfulness and skill with words as evidenced in this lyrical piece set in the depths of rural Ireland.

Barry (Colin Campbell), Cusack (Conor Madden) and Pa (Rhys Dunlop) have gathered to mark the anniversary of their pal Liam’s death, something they’ve done with all their friends every year for the last 17 years. But the numbers have been dwindling and this year, on the year when he’s been dead as long as he was alive, it’s just the three of them and though there’s more booze and drugs to go round, there’s also more introspection.

For as they regress to teenage japes with convoluted drinking games, the harsher realities of their mid-thirties in a post-crash economy won’t – can’t – be ignored. All three are in different places – one ready to leave, one who can’t imagine leaving and one somewhere in the middle – but they’re all trapped in an emotional stasis, traumatised by a past that won’t seem to let go.

Thomas Martin’s production is eloquently and evocatively done, Naomi Faughnan’s design amping up the naturalism and Zia Bergin-Holly’s lighting allowing for moments of something more. The pacing is very much a slow burn, almost too much so in its totality, but the moments when the lads break out of character to deliver solilioquys as Liam are all the more powerful because of their distinctiveness.  

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Ste Murray
Flights is booking at the Omnibus Theatre until 29th February

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