Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Little Thing, Big Thing, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Susan Mansfield.
Larry is a thief with one last job to do: filch a precious statue of the Virgin from a closed down convent in rural Ireland. Sister Martha is just back from Nigeria with a roll of film in her pocket, and a desire to right wrongs by exposing the misdeeds of western oil companies. When their paths collide, they end up on the run in Larry’s clapped-out van, with a mission to get to Dublin and a Nigerian warlord on their trail.
Donal O’Kelly’s play for Ireland’s new writing theatre company Fishamble, is funny, moving and profound by turns. Larry and Martha, beautifully played by O’Kelly himself and Sorcha Fox, are a middle-aged Bonnie and Clyde, finding increasingly madcap ways to wriggle out of progressively tricky fixes. As they tap petrol from a tractor, lie their way through police checkpoints and rob the offering box in a church, both find resources they didn’t know they had.
While the story never falters in pace, there is some beautiful writing here – Martha’s return to St Lazarus’, the convent she left 20 years before, now earmarked for sale, is particularly poignant. There are also profound moments of connection between two individuals who find unexpected sympathy for one another, discovering that they share a measure of unfulfilled dreams.
It’s a play about little things, and some big ones: environmental damage caused by western companies drilling for oil in the Niger Delta, and the complicity of the organisations that might have the power to resist them; the possibility of two lonely people making a connection during a madcap adventure. The combination of good writing, a tight plot and a genuine desire to entertain makes this one of the most enjoyable plays I’ve seen at the Fringe so far this year.
Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 18 August 2015
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