facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

Ballyturk

First Published 17 September 2014, Last Updated 17 September 2014

What’s it all about?

Cor, that’s a tough one. On the surface it’s about two men – with numbers instead of names – who have been cooped up in a single room, seemingly for the majority of their lives. They pass their time by reflecting on the goings-on in the fictional town of Ballyturk, impersonating its inhabitants, dressing each other in various costumes and working up a sweat on a makeshift exercise circuit. You’d be forgiven for thinking it sounds a tiny bit random. There is, of course, a bigger question about the futility and absurdity of human existence nestled within it that even Samuel Beckett would approve of.

Who’s in it?

Last seen singlehandedly commanding the same National Theatre space in Enda Walsh’s Misterman, Cillian Murphy reunites with the playwright alongside a couple of companions, Mikel Murfi and Stephen Rea. Murphy is on fine form, stretching his vocal cords from the high-pitched squeals of a bird to the deep guttural sound he uses to evoke foreboding gloom. On top of the actor’s vocal range, the physicality of his performance is second to none. He seamlessly masters the moves choreographed by Kate Prince for the show’s up-tempo, music-blasting moments and is disturbingly convincing as he convulses into a state of near unconsciousness. Murfi matches his namesake’s vigour in the calibre and versatility of his own performance, which at one point involves embodying nearly a score of characters in a matter of seconds. In contrast to the comic duo’s manic portrayals, Rea, as character number 3, brings relative calm and a poetic philosophy to proceedings.

What should I look out for?

So many things: an edible game of Jenga, the line “I won’t be out-bittered by a lemon, Bertie”, and the tale of a rabbit’s shopping trip and subsequent demise.

In a nutshell?

The incredible Cillian Murphy and Mikel Murfi bring comedy chaos to the Lyttelton Theatre in a Beckett-inspired show that confounds and amuses.

Who was in the press night crowd?

We spotted a trio of Olivier Award-winning ladies: Lesley Manville, Zoë Wanamaker and Sheila Hancock.

What’s being said on Twitter?

‏@polyg: Ballyturk Is like having an existential crisis while having a stroke. In a good way.

@NTS_Neil: #Ballyturk @NationalTheatre a dazzling,blurring thing of beauty,stunningly performed.Hats off to producers,@GalwayIntArts #AnnClark @PCC62

Will I like it?

It’s more a case of will you understand it than will you like it. Thankfully the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Even if you struggle to comprehend what Walsh is getting at during these existentialist, Beckett-inspired 90-minutes, the physical comedy of the piece, which the playwright has directed himself, will ensure that you’re entertained for its duration. From records flying through the air and trousers being dropped to choreographed dance and fitness routines, there is more than enough for your eyes and funny bone to feast on.

Ballyturk is playing until 11 October. You can book tickets through the National Theatre’s website.

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.