Howie the Rookie

Reminiscent of an Irish Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Howie the Rookie is a two-hander exploring the journeys of Howie (Tom Taplin) and the Rookie (Ed Limb) as they become immersed in the seedy underworld of 1990s Dublin. The Revived Emmanuel Dramatic Society's production of this brilliant play is stripped-back and well-executed, if a little unambitious.

With superb acting and a phenomenal script, it's a show that will certainly entertain.

The writing is ingenious. Mark O'Rowe is a wonderfully observant playwright who notices the minutiae of everyday life. Howie's excitement upon spotting the flared nostrils of a woman he fancies (as she, too, becomes sexually aroused by him) is an example of O'Rowe's incredible attention to detail.

Additionally, Tom Taplin and Ed Limb gave fantastic performances in their respective roles, acting with confidence, charisma and subtlety. Their vocal delivery was impressively nuanced: a testament both to their acting ability and the thoughtful direction of Ellie Warr. I must confess, however, that I didn't always believe in Taplin's portayal of Howie Lee. Talented as he was, Taplin's physicality was often so delicate I sometimes struggled to see Howie for the pugnacious fighter O'Rowe paints him to be.

For all the production's strengths, it was a little too pared back. Despite their stated desire for 'authenticity and immediacy' through 'a stripped-back aesthetic', the production could have benefitted through greater use of drama media: lighting, sound, etc. The more frequent inclusion of music, for example, or the occasional use of projections could have helped immersion and emotional investment.

Nevertheless, the company should be congratulated on what was a very solid production. With superb acting and a phenomenal script, it's a show that will certainly entertain.

Reviews by Alan Stewart

Assembly George Square Studios

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Howie the Rookie


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The Blurb

'Someone's after you, you're hunted.' Meet the Howie Lee and the Rookie Lee, two men with nothing in common except a last name and an ill-fated spiral of events. Celebrated Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe's 1999 critically acclaimed drama is a two-hander of two halves, taking a nightmarish dive into the darkest depths of human behaviour. Known for his intense, lyrical verse and blistering imagery, O'Rowe litters this visceral tragedy with ruinous violence and surprising comic twists.