THEATRE / Una Pooka - Tricycle, Kilburn

Robert Hanks
Thursday 09 July 1992 23:02

The year is 1979: it's the eve of the Pope's visit to Ireland, and everybody in Dublin has somebody sleeping on their floor. Aidan and Nuala have the whole Kevitt family up from the country - Aidan's pious tyrant of a mother, his malcontented brother Liam, and his reserved sister Una. And then there's his father's cousin, Fr Simeon, a self-effacing, bland monk. Everyone is primed with goodwill in expectation of the Holy Father's arrival; but, predictably, as the evening wears on, masks slip and tensions erupt.

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.

Box office: 071-328 1000.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in