Death Of The Tradesman


The Lir, Dublin Feb 12-16 7.30pm (Fri mat 1pm) €15/€10

In a few short years, Talking Shop Ensemble has become something more than a conversation piece. The group began by creating a hum on the wires with their 2009 Dublin Fringe show Ann and Barry: What Kind of Time Do You Call This?, which deposited school book characters into a nastier contemporary Ireland. They’ve been taking similarly playful approaches to social topics ever since: eating and feminism in Fat, superstition and religion in Do You Read Me?.

Their two standout works so far have been created from the stories on everybody’s lips. I Am a Homebird (It’s Very Hard), a documentary piece by the company and the writer/ performer Shaun Dunne, was a grab bag of ideas about Generation Emigration, pleading with their peers to stay and rebuild a damaged nation.

For Death of a Tradesman, however, director Oonagh Murphy has reached for a sturdier structure to bear its poignancy without losing the company’s authentic heart, invoking Arthur Miller’s lament for door-to-door salesmen (Dunne and Lauren Larkin play characters named Willie and Linda) while absorbing the stories of the actors’ parents.

For all its tenderness and humour, some will find a home crumbling under the pressure of unemployment and recession tough to bear. But, restaged as winner of The Lir’s Revival Award, it’s a show we need to talk about.

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