Directed by Conor McPherson, starring Dylan Moran, Michael Caine, Lena Headey, Michael Gambon, Abigail Iversen.
Written and directed by Conor McPherson from an original story by Neil Jordan, 'The Actors' is an Irish crime caper which, although it doesn't fully gel, still has enough charm and wit to get it through. The main energy of the piece comes from comedian and 'Black Books' star Dylan Moran, who finally manages to rise above his shambolic TV persona and show his acting chops.
He plays hapless young actor Tom Quirke. Doubting his acting abilities, Tom is incapable of even summoning up enough conviction at an audition to get a job in a sausage advert. Struggling by as a stormtrooper in an updated Nazi version of 'Richard III', he's taken under the wing of the star of the show Anthony O'Malley (Caine). O'Malley is an embittered old ham, playing Richard to semi-empty houses, bemoaning his glory days in American television and about to be evicted from his home. Desperate for money, he hatches a simple plan to con cash out of local criminal Barreller (Gambon) - but he needs Tom to play the part of debt collector for him.
Enlisting the help of his oddly precocious 9-year-old niece, Mary (Iversen), Tom manages to put his scruples and doubts aside and, looking like a deranged Jarvis Cocker, convince Barreller to hand over the cash. But simple plans rarely remain simple, especially when Jock (an almost unrecognisable McElhatton), the real debt collector, arrives in the country. As Tom and O'Malley run scared, Mary comes up with the ideas and the unlikely conspirators realise that one disguise is never enough.
The plot may be ridiculous but what makes 'The Actors' worthwhile is Dylan Moran. As Tom, Moran reprises the stand-up routine we've seen him do so many times before but he - and his character - are transformed once we get into funny walk territory. With the help of some bad false teeth and ill-fitting latex, he takes on more and more demented identities, giving the audience plenty of belly laughs in the process. Michael Gambon's reformed gangster going straight - for him respectability is all about having an office with "electric kettle, biscuits and all" - is both touching and amusing and Caine is appropriately cast as the pretentious vain actor ("I always wanted to play Hamlet but with just the vowels").
The set up is ludicrous, the characters unbelievable yet there are still some great comic moments in this flimsy but heartwarming romp.