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Rank

Published 6 November 2008

Three Irish taxi drivers waiting around at Dublin airport, desperately hoping for customers, sounds like an unlikely setting for a thriller. But Rank takes this group of seemingly normal men and leads them down an increasingly dangerous path.

Overweight, scruffy Carl (Alan King) is in a spot of trouble a year after losing his wife. Crippled by debt and facing a serious gambling problem, he finds himself in the expensive lounge of Dublin crook and casino owner Jack Farrell (Bryan Murray). Self-assured and unsettlingly composed, Jack has Carl in his complete control, blackmailing him for the money he owes with a deadly sweet smile and one hand always on the handle of a battered cricket bat which has clearly seen more action off the field than on.

With his life and more sensitive parts in danger, Carl has one day to make three grand and, short of returning to the roulette table and risking losing more, has no way to do it. Confiding in fellow taxi driver and former father-in-law George Kelly (Eamonn Hunt), and the eternally optimistic (read naive), wannabe lothario Bush (John Lynn), they set about finding a way to get Carl out of his sticky situation. Within a couple of hours the group finds itself in a place it never expected, mixed up in a bank heist with a mysterious, unopened black sports bag at the centre.

Although there are moments when Rank becomes deadly serious, often with a bat or knife in hand, the play is essentially a comic-thriller with the three main characters fish out of water in Jack’s debauched world. Carl is constantly teased for his weight even in the most inappropriate of situations and Bush, completely underestimating the gangster credentials of the pair, happily amuses himself with the fact he has slept with the wife of Jack’s simple, but brutal son Freddie. However, not all is as it seems and Jack and George have a score to settle from their dark past that threatens to ruin them all.

Robert Massey’s play is, like many, a comedy masking the more serious issues present. As Carl reaches rock bottom, addiction and loss are faced head on with the ever present and ever supportive George by his side. The complex relationships between each character are explored proving that, in the end, Jack’s belief that you can never really know anyone is fatally flawed, causing a mistake that loses him much more than he ever bargained for.

CM

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