The Actors (Cert 15)

by ALEXANDER WALKER, Evening Standard

The Actors, a Dublin comedy from Neil Jordan's original story, is a jokey, overloud farce. But it incites Michael Caine, who is busking on the boards as Richard III, with Dylan Moran as sidekick and Shakespearean protégé to have fun dressing up in numerous disguises to evade the vengeance of a mob from whom they have stolen £50,000. They make amusing partners.

Caine is something more: a vain, but touching thespian in whom the Broadway lights, unlike his performances, have never died, and whose sublime ambition is to do a radical production of Hamlet using only the vowel sounds in Shakespeare's words, "each character vocally crippled, like."

He struggles nightly as Richard III with a hump the size of a coal sack in a production that is a devilishly funny take-off of Ian McKellen's film performance as a Nazi Crookback, heiling at the end of every other pentameter.

Dylan Moran gets more of the film's running time as a ham actor first seen auditioning for a porksausage commercial.

For reasons beyond hope of my explaining in the space available, but which have much to do with preserving his balls (and Caine's too), Moran has to impersonate in short order a loudmouth Englishman, a blaspheming Irishman - there are already too many lazy F-words employed in the film for some folks' comfort - and a ribald Scotsman.

It's all narrated in five classical acts by a precocious Dublin schoolgirl, confidently played by Abigail Iversen, and over-orchestrated by writer-director Connor McPherson as if calling "Action" meant giving everyone their head, tongue and lungs.

Michael Gambon is a slobbering Dublin mobster with two daft sons, a beautiful daughter (Lena Headey) and a volume of blarney that would make a station announcement sound like an undertone; Miranda Richardson is the hard woman from across the water.

At present Moran is still a bit too much the stand-up comic; but if he can tone things down, we may have discovered a Peter Sellers in the bud.

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