Jamie Beamish stole the show in a new play by Ger Bourke, Last Beauty Spot, at The Cork Arts Theatre, last week. He was in scintillating form in this new four-hander for Corcadorcaa, the acclaimed Cork theatre company. He had most of the funny lines and his dysfunctional antics as he wheedled with his granny on a mobile phone caught the mood of a very understated play.
The script is vague at times and suggests more than it states, so it is left to director, Pat Kiernan, to put bones on shadow and angst. Set on a river, that could be the Suir – there is an iconic beauty spot where people come to commit suicide. There is talk of tragedy, European workers taking Irish jobs, of headless African bodies in the river, of failed development projects. Dandy, a feckless greedy lowlife, runs a greasy cafe cum chuck wagon called The Last Supper. He shares his misery with babe, a woman too far gone to really care but angry for missed chances. He watches for innocents who come to drown themselves in the river and when they dive in, he does not rescue or raise the alarm but uses two river scavengers, father and son, Willy O’ and Davy, to catch the body and hide it from discovery for at least a fortnight later while Dandy does a roaring trade in voyeurs, family and rescue services. The river two are as feral as mud rats and have no morality worth mentioning. In fact, there is little moral value in any of the four characters. They just lurch from one get-rich-quick scheme to another. Dandy goes from dodgy fast food to Tommy Hilflogger shirts to espressos (which he calls expressos). Davy goes from poacher to odd-job boy to shirt seller in a factory. This is the awful world of just getting by in a backwater.
A long sequence when the four try to write a suicide note to start interest in the latest jumper, has that improvised feel of comedy but shot through with the punch line that the misfortunate girl may have had no English.
Despite the gross humour, these are not nice people. Donagh Deeney was a chilling Dandy. Joan Sheehy was a fine Babe, Anthony Morris was an angry Willie O’ and Jamie Beamish was wonderful as the half-wit sneering Davy.
It was my second time seeing Corcadorca perform a Ger Bourke play. I saw his Banshee Makers back in 2000 and Corcadorca are to be lauded for keeping faith with this emerging playwright.