Dirty Hands

Only a few things feel strained in this transposition of Les Mains Sales to 1982 Northern Ireland. Resentment directed against Hugo - who’s originally a member of the bourgeoisie - is explained by making him an ‘intellectual American rich kid’. It’s convincing enough, but a little laboured. Most of Satre’s excellent thriller, however, is preserved with panache; whatever this production’s flaws may be, it makes up for with its style.

The entire cast is excellent. I believed Hugo was a thinker; he made ponderings such as, ‘murder, it’s abstract’ sound heartfelt and complex. Hannah, his sexy, meddling wife, is superb too - we’re never quite sure whether to trust her. The unblinking Mariel, with her slow speaking authority, makes lines like ‘Go. Get him,’ exciting. Mariel oozes cool - perhaps even a little too much cool.

Every combination of actors is a strong one. Mariel and Hugo’s mysterious first scene immediately draws us in; Hugo and Hannah’s flirtations are ominously compelling. Moriarty’s first appearance - ‘Why was I disturbed?’- is as exciting as intended, and his pivotal scene with Hugo is properly gripping. It was as if the audience was holding one, shared breath in anticipation.

The direction is expertly judged. Bold lighting is cleverly used to accentuate the time shifts and the use of the door to the theatre as an entrance does make it feel real. So too, does the lack of curtain call. It’s stylish, even if it meant the audience - accustomed to anticipation - wasn’t sure if the play was over. This is a play about missing and taking chances. The production is slick, gripping, and elegant. Don’t miss your chance to see it.

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The Blurb

Young and idealistic, Hugo Barine prepares to prove himself by assassinating his apparently traitorous revolutionary leader. However, his life and beliefs are upturned when he meets the man himself in this classic Sartre thriller with a modern twist.

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