The Matchmaker

4 Stars

****

Donald Smith, Splinter Productions Literary Director, has successfully adapted ‘Letters of a Matchmaker’ by Irish writer JB Keane to create this warm hearted production. The play is set in Ballybarra, a remote town in southern Ireland sometime in the 1950’s and evokes a sense of those times.

Seasoned performers, John Shedden, Anna Hepburn and Finlay MacLean bring vividly to life an array of interesting and amusing characters. The comedy ranges from the gently witty and saucy to the riotously funny.

John Shedden holds the piece together as the curiously named Dicky Mick Dicky O’Connor, whose main livelihood is farming. Noticing, however, the number of lonely and single people living in the community, he has set himself up as ‘The Matchmaker’. He does have a genuine desire to bring people together but he can make some profit out of the service he is providing.

Interweaving stories develop from monologues drawn from the contents of the letters which pass back and forward between Dicky and his clientele. Eccentrics Finnula Crust and Claude Glyn-Hunter (Hon) are two of the characters who reappear because, after numerous attempts, Dicky has immense difficulty finding them the appropriate partner.

Another strand brought in is the correspondence between Dicky and his brother Jack who lives in America. These letters reveal Dicky’s more intimate thoughts which reach their lowest point when his wife dies. Will Dicky find a new match for himself? This is not for me to reveal.

Being a two act play, it has the time to fully develop the kaleidoscope of characters and situations. A most enjoyable and absorbing theatrical experience.

Reviewed by Ben

Scottish Storytelling Centre: 30a

22 to 29 August 2011

15.00 – 16.50

Fringe Programme Page Number: 279

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