Amid the snowy apocalypse that fell on Dublin earlier this year the Scene + Heard festival in Smock Alley took place, highlighting some of our capital’s finest artistic ventures. One of the shows I caught was Pulp Injection, a series of radio-plays written and directed by the industrious comedian/actor/writer Peter McGann.
You never really know what you are in for when you step into the world/mind of McGann and I have yet to be left unimpressed or un-doubled over upon leaving one of his creations in my wake. From the unfeathered hilarity of his mate Liam Nugent to his work with Chaps Eye, Glick Bate and Republic of Telly, to his various superb characters like Dick Liver that have been bouncing around the interweb for the last few years; I’m never let down.
I left Pulp Injection last February with two burning questions; did I ever really know who Eamon De Valera was, and when can I get to see more of these? Thankfully the second question was answered only last week when Peter took his plays back to the stage, this time in a sold out Workman’s Club.
The audience was made up of a who’s who of Dublin’s comedy, acting and improv scenesters plus casual punters and fans like myself. Everyone left on common ground however, having witnessed comedy theatre in all of its stripped-back splendour. Jaws ached from the constant barrage of drink-spitting one liners and venomous quips.
The first of the plays was ‘Operation Stemflow’ where we were reunited with Eamon De Valera (John Morton) and his trusty boy ward, and Catholic Primate of Ireland, Li’l Charlie McQuaid (Kelly Shatter).
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of women and protestants? De Valera does.
‘Operation Stemflow’ follows the courageous, righteous duo down in the depths of the “hellish pit, haven to nothing but West Brits and quislings” that is Cork as they try to stop the evil British powers from corrupting our peaceful land with the most menacing of objects; female sanitary devices.
We are introduced to an actual female Doctor, Dr. Ann-Marie McBride (Ali Fox), club owner Marianne (Amy Dunne) and her dancing Cork Resistance – or as Dev calls them “a shower of tarted-up brassers” as they team up with Eamon and Lil’ Charlie to take down the treacherous villainy of the Brits.
Morton and Shatter share the majority of stage time as we watch their playful, naive, wrong on so many levels relationship blossom. They perfectly capture the Batman & Robin bromance and underlying sexual tension that made the Adam West era so damn brilliant. De Valera’s unflinching discomfort in the company of women only augmented the audience’s suspicions.
If there was one moment of show-stealing from the stellar Morton and Shatter it was the introduction of Sexy Beasts’ Tony Cantwell’s depraved, deplorable Winston Churchill. It was hilariously sickening and has to be heard to be believed.
The second play we were gifted was ‘Vice Squad Confidential’. Think LA Confidential with the cast of Saturday Night Live.
‘Vice Squad Confidential’ follows Peggy White (Ali Fox), the first female detective in the LAPD in the 1950s, as she tries to shake things up and stick to the straight and narrow among the corruption and lad culture of the police department.
Joining the ranks of Vice Squad, headed up by Lieutenant Cole Holland (Finbarr Doyle), it becomes obvious from the get-go that those in power are a little wary of allowing a woman into the fold.
First dame detective and you want to be assigned to Vice Squad. What’s your angle, White? Vice Squad is no place for a skirt, even one as mannish and grizzled as you.
White’s first case on Vice? Investigating a shady porno ring that could bring Hollywood to its knees. After the killing of Spider Ellington (Stephen Considine), your friendly neighbourhood photographer of filth who could “light a gooch like a Caravaggio”, our leading lady and slippery partner Cole try to get some information from crime boss Mickey Cohen (Giles Brody).
‘Vice Squad Confidential’ is full of twists and turns, perverted Hollywood moguls, silver screen starlets, a horse named Guilty Conscience and a Nazi cosmetic surgeon. Among the fantastic dialogue and every detective troupe in the book the performances were once again the highlight.
Fox and Doyle, giving his best impression of Donal Logue throughout, provide a fantastic back and forth of witty lines while trying to stay one step ahead of the other. Brody’s gritty yet farcical Mickey Cohen is a delightful baddie you wish had more stage time and Eoin Lyons’ Dr. Herman Mundt is straight from a schlocky 60s horror – in all the right ways.
Through out the night the voices on call from John Morton, Kelly Shatter, Ali Fox, Finbarr Doyle, Eoin Lyons, Tony Canwell, Giles Brody, Amy Dunne, Laura Brady and Stephen Considine were delivered with poise, timing and hilarity giving justice to the exquisite writing from Peter McGann.
Pulp Injection will be returning to The Workman’s Club this December and I urge you all to go. Follow Peter on Twitter to keep up with breaking news on the night.
You can catch an awful lot of the cast appearing on our very on improv podcast, Phoning It In hosted by Dave Coffey. Tony Cantwell can be found weekly on his crypto-pod Sexy Beasts. Kelly Shatter’s mini series Long Dark Twenties is a must watch. Giles Brody’s The Sunday Sermon podcast will be coming to the Dublin Podcast Festival and his play Trial of the Centurys will be running during Dublin Fringe and stars Cantwell and the brilliant Kevin McGahern and the main man Peter McGann will be popping up there too.