22 September 2000 | feargus
Farce used to hilarious effect to pursue moral argument.
Hubert Flynn (Pete Postlethwaite) has had a hard day on his bread delivery round. and so, stops off for a pint on the way home to Kimmage to wife Conchita (Imelda Staunton), daughter Marietta (Kerry Condon) and his saintly son Pius (Andrew Lovern). Inevitably one pint becomes a few'. He's also under the weather. Daisy Farrell's (Veronica Duffy) expert diagnosis from the snug is Asiatic flu. Back home, with Conchita giving him some of her mind, Hubert wants only to go to bed. But Hubert hasn't the flu. There he metamorphoses into a rat.
Initially normality reigns in the Flynn household in this freak circumstance of Hubert as rat. He's a bit picky about his food and the family unsure of rat habits, but widely read Uncle Matt (Frank Kelly) proves expert on all things rodent.
But journalist Phelim Spratt (David Wilmot) worms his way into the home with a plan for a book, a film, a book of the film
However the satanic entrepreneurial approach is a Pandora's box and sets the film off in glorious chase of the punchline.
Wesley Burrows' screenplay is in the tradition of the farce a comic creation built around exaggeration of character and event, extremes of personality and occasion; soaked in satire and nonsense; action-driven, leading to the climactic joke that is the point of the piece.
But the punchline is not the whole point. Farce should also have a point of view. Without unveiling the joke, how ought we to respond to freaks', aliens in our midst'? Burn them? Expel them? Exploit them? Accept them?
Director Steve Barron and his cast carry off Burrows' farce with verve (with Imelda Stauntion in splendid form) according to the rules of the genre including hilariously developing the moral debates.