Shenanigans at Southwark Elephant

“How did you make the leap from painting and decorating to brain surgery?”

Blake as Vera to Dinny

Dinny (Dan Skinner) Sean (Emmet Byrne) and Blake (Killian Coyle) (Photo: David Jensen)

As its first major production for the new theatre that is the Southwark Playhouse Elephant as Southwark Playhouse looks towards its new location at London Bridge, comes Enda Walsh’s 2006 absurdist play The Walworth Farce.  The existing Southwark Playhouse in Newington Causeway will be known as Southwark Playhouse Borough.  What the choice of play The Walworth Farce has in locality it lacks in credibility as Walsh’s play churns up the stories we tell ourselves and repeats them to incomprehension.  

This family from Cork in Southern Ireland have come to live in a flat in Southwark along the Walworth Road in one of London’s poorest district skyscrapers of public housing.  They are Dinny the father (Dan Skinner) and his two sons, Sean (Emmet Byrne) and Blake (Killian Coyle).  When we first see him Blake is wearing a woman’s blouse and skirt and ironing his dress.  

Killian Coyle as Blake and Dan Skinner as Dinny (Photo: David Jensen)

Dinny dictates that they should endlessly reenact the terrible events that brought them to London when they fled from Ireland.  He and the two sons rehearse their muddled version of the past every day.  With the obvious limited resources the actors are called on to change into various characters at the drop of a proverbial hat.  The humour centres around the use of wigs so that the cast can put a wig on their hands or head pretending it to be a not seen character and have a conversation. This gets extremely confusing as it becomes very difficult to follow exactly who it is that is being spoken to and how they contribute to the story. 

The first half of the play uses these devices for its humour, the audience were initially amused but by halfway the amusement had died down and was starting to be replaced by confusion. The second half has a more serious tone and the laughter almost gone.  We learn that they do not leave the flat except that Sean goes out for essential supplies and props for the play.  When he returns with a large salami and Ryvita instead of the usual roast chicken dinner, Dinny goes apoplectic.  

Dan Skinner as Dinny, Killian Coyle as Blake and Emmet Byrne as Sean (Photo: David Jensen)

The arrival at the door of Hayley (Rachelle Diedericks) who is the cashier from Tesco who has come to exchange the bag Sean left behind taking another one, yes with Ryvita and Salami in it.  This disruption to his play brings Dinny to boiling point and Hayley is grabbed, gagged, tied up and thrown onto the bed.   

Carnage follows and the bodies start to pile up like Jacobean tragedy.  This is not a play meant to be taken literally but an allegory and if you can see what the Emperor is wearing, you will certainly get the allegory.  And you’ll need a critic who gets it and finds it funny. 

I wish Southwark Playhouse Elephant the very best and look forward to the musical Berlusconi, the next big production.  

Dan Skinner as Dinny, Rachelle Diedericks as Hayley and Killian Coyle as Blake. (Photo: David Jensen)

Production Notes

The Walworth Farce

Written by Enda Walsh

Directed by Nicky Allpress



Dan Skinner

Emmet Byrne

Killian Coyle

Rachelle Diedericks


Director: Nicky Allures

Designer: Anisha Fields

Lighting Designer: Lucía Sánchez Roldán

Sound Designer: Joseff Harris


Running Time: Two hours 15 minutes with an interval

Booking to 18th March 2023


Southwark Playhouse Elephant

Dante Place

80 Newington Butts

London, SE11 4FL

Box Office enquiries:

Tube/Rail : Elephant and Castle

Telephone: 020 7407 0234


Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the

Southwark Elephant on 24th February 2023