Triumphant return to Cork for Cillian Murphy

Cillian Murphy and Stephen Rea in Ballyturk.

Cork actor Cillian Murphy made a triumphant return to his hometown last night when he led a stellar cast at the opening of Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk at Cork Opera House. It was Murphy’s first appearance on a Leeside stage since he first broke through in 1996 in another of Walsh’s plays, Disco Pigs.

The boy from Ballintemple has grown into a 38-year-old star with such films as 28 Days Later and three Batman movies under his belt, and it was nice to see a hefty contingent of his family in the audience as part of the homecoming.

But last night wasn’t all about Murphy. Alongside him on the Opera House stage were Mikel Murfi and Stephen Rea, who both gave the expected brilliant performances in Walsh’s typically quirky play. Just like so much of Disco Pigs came from a linguistic base, the Ballyturk brothers played by Murphy and Murfi use language to create their own universe to relieve the boredom of the small room they are confined in. Rea’s character arrives late in the play and offers them with a way out of this world.

It’s by turns slapstick and silly, while being underpinned with a surreal menace. The Marx Brothers went to bed with Flann O’Brien and David Lynch, and named the resulting baby Enda Walsh.

This thrilling Landmark Productions play, which had its world premiere at the Galway Arts Festival in July, zips along without an interval and the impressive final scene makes a particularly strong impression.

After this run, Ballyturk is off to London for a month at the National Theatre from September 11, and the incredible demand for tickets in Galway, Dublin and Cork would suggest that quite a few Irish people will make the trip to see it there. Murphy, meanwhile, is back on TV for another series of Peaky Blinders on BBC later this autumn, while Enda Walsh will be busy adapting Roald Dahl’s classic book The Twits for the stage at the Royal Court in London.


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