Theatre review: The Good Thief fails to land a fatal blow

We’ve all been there, one mistake that seems to cascade endlessly into a major cluster$uck.  In Conor McPherson’s The Good Thief, currently on stage at the Havana Theatre, that cluster$uck takes on monumental proportions.

Shaun McComb in the Love OutLaws production of The Good ThiefIn this one-man show, Shaun McComb (photo right) plays a nameless small-time Irish thug whose life consists of obsessing over a certain young lady, a few pints and breaking a few skulls for a Dublin crime boss.  Sent in on what should be a typically mundane job of intimidation takes a dramatic turn that soon finds him on the lam from both his employer and the IRA.  With a woman and child in tow, he finds himself a reluctant saviour as the trio flees the city.

McComb is mostly successful here in recounting the story as if among a group of friends at the local pub.  With his thankfully understandable Irish accent, McComb sips at his pint of beer and tells us the story.  Vacillating between a dramatic retelling and simple statement of the facts, McComb is variously engaging and off-putting; the early grisly details of the incident that sets everything in motion lacked a sense of urgency and real danger, but surprisingly his mad dash to the country did.

Director Gemma Levinson keeps things simple knowing that it is about the story, but the unevenness in its delivery gave too many opportunities to disengage and any sympathetic response that we are meant to feel is missing.

One of Vancouver’s newest theatre company’s, Love OutLaws says its wants to create “theatre that packs a killer blow.”  While it might not have landed that fatal blow with this first outing, there is enough here to look forward to their next.

3 Out of 5 Stars The Good Thief

By Conor McPherson.  Directed by Gemma Levinson.  A Love Outlaws production.  On stage at the Havana Theatre through January 19, 2013.  Visit http://www.loveoutlaws.com for tickets and information.

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