Wunderkind

A savage satire on the movie industry, where dream deals are made then left on the cutting room floor

★★★★
archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 07 Aug 2007

This excellent one-man play, scripted and directed by Darren Thornton, follows the story of Sean, a promising Irish film director and his fall from grace. A bracingly energetic, yet well modulated performance by Owen McDonnell relates the tale of disastrous test screenings and queasily awkward industry parties, as Sean paces up and down the dishevelled living room set in boxers and dressing gown.

The frequently funny and poignant script satirises the falseness of industry players, but never lets us believe that this is a simple story of an artist betrayed. There is a strong sense that Sean may simply be a bad director, compromised by Hollywood imperatives even before the editors come in and leave “blood on the walls.” The script also hints at broader themes, such as religion: Sean seems to be searching for a kind of salvation, though it is winkingly suggested that this is as likely to be found in a Britney Spears video as in a set of rosary beads.

Visual interest is added by varied short film clips, which punctuate the show and give some context to Sean’s story – something that Sean’s own film is accused of lacking. Unseen characters, from Sean’s proud but overbearing mother, to a diminutive and tartly disapproving producer referred to as “the hobbit” are all well sketched. I came away exhilarated and thinking about life and the film industry in a new light.