Review of The Mighty Carlins by Collin Doyle

SFFaudio Review

The Mighty CarlinsThe Mighty Carlins
By Collin Doyle; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 87 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Producer: The Wireless Theatre Company
Released: June 12, 2013
Themes: / Family / Humour / Black Comedy /

On the anniversary of his wife’s death, Leo Carlin and his two sons come together for their traditional night of sharing the good and not so good memories of the dearly departed Mrs Carlin. Beers are drunk. Plans are hatched. Secrets are revealed. The Mighty Carlins is a black comedy that celebrates a family at its worst.

Before I start talking about alcohol soaked childhoods, failed ambitions, stuck lives and dead-end plans, I want to clarify, The Mighty Carlins is an entertaining, compelling, audio drama replete with fun, twists and surprises.

On the anniversary of their mother’s death, two brothers, Mike and Davie get together with their father Leo, to share memories about their mother. It’s obvious from the conversation between Leo and Mike while they wait for Davie that this is not, nor has it ever been, a happy little family. The parents’ main objective through their lives together seemed to revolve around having enough liquor to make it through another night. Mike has a failed marriage and a couple of crashed business plans behind him and not much ahead. Self absorbed, inattentive Leo is more interested in humiliating his sons than engaging in anything meaningful. Most broken of all is the younger brother Davie, who despite a lifetime of proof against it, still believes he can find something worthwhile in these two. The three shards of broken glass that was once a family have this annual ritual for the benefit of Davie who’s desperate to find at least one happy memory he can hold onto against the bleak reality of his past and the looming future that holds no discernible difference. Gathered together to share memories about their mother, none of those remembrances enter the picture until the final quarter of the play. Until then the stories they tell are a mishmash of conspiracies, lies and betrayals with a few truths thrown in to mix it up a little.

To me, the play felt a lot like Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? where words are like scalpels and sentences are designed to inflict just enough damage to illicit pain, but not quite enough to stop the flow of conversation. Dialogue throughout glues the family combatants together while simultaneously shredding them apart.

Rather than follow a straightforward moving line, threads of story meander out of the narrative, swirl around, duck under, over, other threads, sometimes tying up loose ends, but more often leading to more questions instead of answers. Is this a mystery we’re listening to? Is there going to be a big reveal at the end? Is there anything holding this family together besides pain and lies? Each thread, each tangent tugs us through the labyrinth of these lives.

Despite wrecked childhoods, going nowhere lives and empty big plans for the future, The Mighty Carlins is not in any way depressing. It’s intriguing and captivating and at times laugh aloud funny. It features biting dialogue, well drawn, sympathetic (in the cases of the sons) characters who really shouldn’t be very likable at first glance, but ultimately are, failures et al.

Collin Doyle’s writing is strong and the whole piece is well crafted. It’s uniformly well performed, thoroughly enjoyable and engaging from start to finish.

From The Wireless Theatre Company website:

We believe that bringing a theatre company of this nature to the internet is a positive cultural contribution as the nature of audio plays is particularly suited to performance and publications of work by a large cross section of the community; we encourage and support any contributors, and will always strive to provide a forum for new talent. Our website is found purely through search engines and word of mouth – so if you like what you hear – PLEASE tell your friends!

I wholeheartedly agree. Check out The Wireless Theatre Company. Tell your friends.

Shane Rimmer
Christopher Ragland
Christian Malcolm

Music by Michael Seal

Directed by Paul Blinkhorn

Produced by Jack Bowman and Robert Valentine

Edited by Paul Darling

Engineered by Carlos Ziccarelli at Unity Studios, London.

Posted by Maissa Bessada

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