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The Ones Who Kill Shooting Stars is a peculiarly marvellous tale in which Henry (Gregory Finnegan), the lonely alcoholic, is employed to keep lookout and track the comings and goings on the Irish coastline during The Emergency in the Second World War.  Supervising Henry is the hilarious Edward (Damien Tracy) whose long, self-important rants provide the audience with much enjoyment, especially when he is complaining about his work load (two days a week, every other week) or imploring Henry not to use his flare gun to attract girls. However, Edward’s high morals do not stretch to cover the increasing number of dead soldiers (Anthony Pinnock, William Towler and Tom Graysham) washing up on shore from which he is more than happy to brush down and pocket any valuables.  Henry is soon joined by the dreamlike Alice (Clare Fraenkel) who keeps running away from home despite the fact she is the only one who lives there now. Determined not to be alone she digs up the dead pilot Eugene Dumas (Paul Hayward) and promptly falls in love with him. Thus begins the love triangle between the pyromaniac, the runaway and the corpse.  If you think this is strange, wait until you get to act two!

By now Dumas is resurrected and seems as alive as you or I. Whilst trying to figure out how he came to be in Drogheda, he is met by the silent but aggressive Manus the Wise (Richard Stoker) and New York sailor Schimmelfinneg (Dominic Ridley) who is convinced they’re in some limbo, I’m starting to feel the same. As the mood takes a turn for the darker, this pleasant walk on the beach is morphing into something decidedly more sinister. Alice is desperate not to have anyone else leave her, Henry is jealous of Alice’s affections for Eugene, and Edward’s unexpected rapacious behaviour chilled me to the bone.

Matthews Augustus’ simple set was both evocative and effective; deck chairs and a beach hut complete with a big parachute cloud and a wheelbarrow used as a mode of transportation. Tom Whickens’ lighting design is naturalistic and stylised in equal measure, smoothly taking you from a chilly Irish evening to a meeting of the undead with ease. What is really striking about this play however, is the language. Quinn writes in such a visual and surreal way that watching The Ones Who Kill Shooting Stars is like witnessing a poem unfold in front of your eyes. Although I enjoyed the company’s performances, it was their utter belief in the characters rather than the characterisations themselves that I found beguiling. I got to the point where logic didn’t matter anymore and I willingly gave myself up to the bizarre…for who would choose reality when you can exist in such a fantastical fantasy?

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REVIEWED 11/10/12

By Amy Lawrence

 2nd Sep – 21st Oct 2012

The White Bear Theatre, London, SE11.

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