Michael Harding's play comes across as straightforward, expert social comedy - a kind of Irish Catholic Ayckbourn. But it is really something else entirely. Halfway through the first act, there's an abrupt revelation that the action of the play is a flashback - 'now' is actually some time later, and what we're seeing are the events of that night as remembered by Una and Fr Simeon. At the same time, the mood switches into a darker, wilder fantasy - Simeon is not what he seems at all; and nothing that happens is even remotely predictable.
Apart from a baffling denouement, everything about Una Pooka is superb. It's a virtuoso piece, thoroughly unnerving and funny, its intricate time-scheme handled with exhilarating facility by the director, Nicolas Kent, and his excellent cast. In particular, Julia Dearden's sympathetic, steely Una and Roger Allam's magnetic Simeon are outstanding.
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