Little Shadow Theatre Company’s ‘The Rice Krispie Killer’ is a dark comedy about two Irish brothers, Finbar and Donnacha, who have not left their house in 18 years, following the mysterious death of their parents.
Finbar is the younger brother, who was only 12 when his parents died. Now aged 30 there is a naive simplicity to him, as if he is stuck at 12, and a not very bright 12 at that. His older brother Donnacha (played by Ross Gaynor) takes great pleasure in telling him he is too thick to do anything, while refusing to let him learn anything. He dominates and bullies his younger brother, which ranges from being very funny to really uncomfortable viewing. I’ve never been a fan of humour that is at the expense of another person, particularly one who is picked on for not being smart enough, however as playwright Sean Basil Crawford frames Finbar as the hero, Donnacha’s insults are a very effective way of highlighting what a total shit he is (particularly when he calls Finbar ‘retarded’, an odious ableist insult I hate).
In addition to having written the play, Crawford also performs, playing Finbar with a convincing innocence and vulnerability. There is something deeply loveable about this character, who lives in fear of the Rice Krispie Killer who murdered his parents. You want him to succeed even as you realise the odds are stacked against him.
Gaynor’s Donnacha is wonderfully obnoxious. There is something quite pretentious about the way he stands around attempting but failing to read a book (to be fair Finbar is very distracting). He plays into the bullying physicality of the character, making him very easy to dislike and distrust. There is something twisted and resentful about the way he cares for his younger brother, a brutality that is focused on keeping the outside world out.
Director Niall Jordan makes full use of his talented cast to deliver this bizarre but funny play. First time playwright Crawford clearly has a talent for both writing and performing comedy. This is a fascinating and bonkers comedy thriller, that isn’t afraid to embrace the ridiculous. I enjoyed the almost folkloric elements that came from the stories the brothers tell each other. I loved the weirdness of their situation. At times the pacing and tone of the play felt a bit uneven, and I would have liked to have felt more in the final scene. It can be challenging to do comedy and allow space for your audience to emotionally connect with your characters, but from what I have seen of his writing so far, Crawford definitely has the skills to do both. I would be intrigued to see what he writes next.
Covid protections in place at the venue
Hand sanitiser is available at the door and throughout. You are asked to log-in to the NHS app when you check in for the theatre. When coming up to the theatre from the pub the audience is asked to wears masks during the show (unless exempt, of course). The audience naturally spaced themselves out throughout the auditorium.
I was there on a sunny Wednesday evening so most of the pub patrons were enjoying the beer garden, so the interior of the pub was pretty quiet. I saw two shows back to back and felt very safe throughout. Can’t speak to how busy it might get on a weekend or rainy night, but overall was impressed. I am determined to treat myself to a meal there soon, I need to check that the food is as delicious as it used to be.