Theatre & Dance

Ulster American review: Woody Harrelson and Andy Serkis are on top form in savage satire of Hollywood hypocrisy

Sometimes theatremakers like to opine that seeing plays builds empathy, makes you a better person. Sometimes that’s even true. But probably not if they’re the handiwork of David Ireland. Ulster American is a comedy that’s so messed up that watching it makes you feel tainted, somehow (it’s worse if you actually laugh!). Jeremy Herrin’s all-star revival dials up the surrealism in this 2018 Edinburgh fringe hit to produce something violently funny, the ghost of a message rising from the carnage.

Two implausibly big Hollywood names are on board here, and they’re on stellar form. Woody Harrelson (freed up by the Writers Guild of America strike) plays self-obsessed household name actor Jay, who’s being buttered up by British director Leigh (Andy Serkis) like he’s an uncommonly dry crumpet. Jay’s star power is what Leigh needs to sell his show, so he’s forced to react with increasingly strained affability to his provocative conversation starters. Even when they’re thought experiments about raping Princess Diana.

Much of Ireland’s humour here springs out of the yawning gap between the self-righteous faces people show to the world and the ugly realities behind them: hypocrisy, in all its infinite grotesque flavours.

Xural.com

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