By Mark O’Rowe
Directed by Greg Carroll
With Paul Ashcroft & Tim Ross
Set: Ben Shaw
Lighting: Clare Springett
Stage Manager: Alex Pryor
It’s tough to walk out of a theatre feeling like Joe Frazier after his Muhammad Ali showdown but that’s the best explanation of a post Howie state possible. This is theatre that grabs the audience by the collar, dons its knuckledusters and pummels away for the rest of the night. What’s more, the audience likes it.
Ashcroft is mind-blowingly mesmerising as Howie, careening out-of-control down a one-way street to responsibility and redemption. For more than an hour he is the only actor on stage and he skids and slides through O’Rowe’s tightly written rollercoaster with extraordinary physical energy ad without a faltering step. He flies through the raucous tales of his evening, down dark alleys and through reeking bars, before spinning on a dime and hitting viewers with tense moments of stark tragedy.
Every moment Ashcroft is on stage is unmissable genius.
With the bar set that high it would seem almost impossible for another actor to then hold the stage on his own and demand the same attention but Ross manages it. Again he constructs a character not with props or interaction, but with movement and gesture.
Howie the Rookie is relentless, wonderful theatre that thumbs its nose at bells, whistles and party tricks, opting instead for little more than a cracking script and hypnotic performances.
Kate Rose, Sunday Herald Sun (27/03/11)
THE streets of Dublin are dank and dangerous and the characters violent and hilarious in Mark O’Rowe’s award-winning play, Howie the Rookie.
O’Rowe’s writing is thrilling and inspired, using language to conjure a vivid, poverty-stricken, urban landscape and a parade of eccentric characters.
Director Greg Carroll and his two actors (Paul Ashcroft, Tim Ross) make this a compelling production with muscular, and poignant performances.
Ashcroft plays The Howie Lee, a thug in pursuit of a fight, booze and girls whose wild rampage turns into a family tragedy.
Ross plays The Rookie Lee, a handsome rogue who finds himself pursued by both Howie and his pals and a Dublin crim. Their lives collide over two nights in ways neither can predict.
Intense, brutal and not for the timid, Howie The Rookie is a must-see.
Kate Herbert, Herald Sun (29/03/11)
It starts small: petty Irish thugs driven to violence over a case of scabies. But soon it’s clear why Red Stitch chose to remount this production as part of its 10th anniversary season. Mark O’Rowe’s play is both a masterpiece of macabre storytelling and an opportunity for actors to make it their own; all involved here make the most of this potential. It’s the theatrical equivalent of a king-hit in King Street: not just surprising but likely to leave a permanent scar or worse. And that’s just by interval. Assume brace position.