‘A Very Very Very Dark Matter’ review: Martin McDonagh pushes new boundaries in this edgy comedy

Jim Broadbent is hysterical in a production that is classic McDonagh: hilarious, dark and absolutely bonkers –

There’s a degree of newfound self-awareness and confidence in McDonagh’s latest production. The humour is edgier and the plot is his most absurd yet – and he knows it.

Jim Broadbent portrays another quirky and eccentric character in his latest role – this time its the children’s author Hans Christian Andersen. Photo: Manuel Harlan.

In a house in Copenhagen, Hans Christian Andersen (hilariously and comfortably portrayed by Broadbent – an actor known for playing bumbling, over-enthusiastic characters) has a secret hiding in a box in his attic in Copenhagen. A Very Very Very Dark Matter is an apt description of what unfolds.

As much as the play reaches new extremes for the Irish playwright, there’s the usual McDonagh tropes dotted throughout the plot. Striking similarities with The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Ryan Pope and Graeme Hawley play the two antagonists trying to hunt down and kill one of the lead characters. Except this time it’s two red men named Dirk and Barry from Belgium.

Outside the role of being daft comic relief, the pair’s part in the story centres historical grudges and time travel. It’s to be expected from such a production, but its execution – save from a couple of laughs – is confusing and somewhat meaningless on a larger scale.

Perhaps the funniest chemistry comes from Andersen’s interactions with fellow author Charles Dickens (Phil Daniels). Daniel’s bluntness and dry wit as Dickens mixes brilliantly with Broadbent’s charming, naive Andersen in scenes where most of the play’s one-liners can be found.

Contrast this with the scenes between Hans and young girl ‘Marjorie’ (Johnetta Eula’Mae Ackles) where the play’s darker, serious side comes to light. Bold and sharp, it’s an impressive theatrical debut for Ackles.

Running for an hour and 30 minutes, A Very Very Very Dark Matter is short, but by no means sweet. Finely directed by Matthew Dunster, the short running time keeps things fast-paced and gripping, before leaving you wondering what the hell just happened.

This review is of a preview performance of the production. A Very Very Very Dark Matter is now playing at the Bridge Theatre until 6 January 2019.

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‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ review – Poldark’s Aidan Turner is hilarious in this bloody brilliant black comedy

Swapping the lovey-dovey vibes of Poldark for dark comedy, Aidan Turner’s latest performance is a surprising – but nonetheless refreshing – change from his role in the popular BBC period drama.

Set in the 90s during The Troubles, The Lieutenant of Inishmore at London’s Noël Coward Theatre sees Turner portray an Irish terrorist shocked by the news that his pet cat, Wee Thomas, is ‘unwell’ – to put it lightly.

From left: Chris Walley, Aidan Turner and Denis Conway. Photo: Johan Persson.

What follows is a play which is extreme in every meaning of the word – absurdist humour, blood and gore are being crammed into two intense, hilarious acts.

It’s a tone quickly established from the outset, with Chris Walley and Denis Conway delivering an incredible performance as duo Davey and Donny – one which almost rivals that of Turner.

A perfect balance between strong humour and shocking violence is struck throughout – something which is testament to Michael Grandage’s directing and ensures that the brave satire contained in Martin McDonagh’s (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) script is never once lost.

Gory, daft and extremely engaging, Aidan Turner leads a fantastic all-Irish cast in this thoroughly entertaining comedy.

Rating: 4/5