A pleasingly unpretentious comedy, THE HAND OF GAUL is something of a departure for Inis Nua, which generally produces serious works by contemporary Irish and British playwrights. Part of the time travel–themed PIFA 2013, HAND finds humor in the aftermath of Ireland’s elimination from 2010 World Cup qualifying. Blaming one of the French players for a blatant but unpunished handball which leveled the tie (Ireland lost on penalties), three dimwitted football fans (Adam Altman, Harry Smith, and playwright Jared Michael Delaney) decide “Thierry Henry must die.” When Davey, the stupidest member of this hopeless “Trinity”, talks his companions out of searching for a poison-tipped-throwing-star-armed ninja, they have the brilliant idea to google “assassin”. So appears “Le Falcon”, a ridiculous Belgian contract killer played by a delightful Damon Bonetti. Bonetti’s joyously farcical French accent (“the gelkipper stopped every shit [shot] that came hees way”) salutes Peter Sellers’s Pink Panther films and episodes of the 1980s British comedy ’Allo ’Allo!
The silliness drags with a few too many overwritten scenes—including an unnecessary video subplot—and pedants* will quibble with Delaney’s soccer understanding (Arsenal stadium!) and creeping Americanisms, but THE HAND OF GAUL is not a play for pedantry. As a tone-perfect absurdist comedy, it entertains. April 9 to 28, 2013. inisnuatheatre.org; pifa.org.
*I’m an English-born soccer coach and referee, and well-known pedant.