Glenn Dunlea reviews RTÉ’s latest home-grown offering, Clean Break.
RTÉ had a big ratings gap to fill when Love/Hate ended it’s run last year. But they may just have found a solution to this with their latest four-part drama, Clean Break.
Coming from the acclaimed playwright and writer Billy Roche and Love/Hate producers Octagon Films, this new and exhilarating series takes crime outside of the capital, placing their action in Wexford town.
Directors Gillies MacKinnon (Behind the Lines) and Damien O’Donnell (East is East) have served up a “slick, beautifully shot, cinematic piece of drama” that draws the viewer in in the shows opening sequence and doesn’t let them go until the end of what is an absolute rollercoaster of a viewing experience.
The story centres around Frank Mallon (Adam Fergus), a slick, well groomed car dealer, living separated from his wife with his daughter Corrina (Kelly Thornton), as he tries to find a solution to his mounting debt and the possibility of the repossession of his business from the local bank.
Local bank manager Desmond (Aidan McArdle) is geekish and sadistic, and shows no mercy to Frank in his plight.
So, Frank hatches a plan. He calls on local criminal Noel (Ned Denny) to help him kidnap Desmond’s family: his wife (Simone Kirby), and adopted daughter (Amybeth McNulty).
In the midst of all this local legend Danny Quinn (Damien Molony), is still trying to find his feet after a career mishap. He gets drawn into Frank’s tiger kidnapping, and from there the drama begins in force.
The acting quality is generally superb. It is refreshing and reassuring to see that the future of Irish dramatic performances on screen at least is secure in several of these actors. Adam Fergus in particular finds the perfect balance between Frank’s charm and corruption.
The writing, cinematography, production design and soundtrack are all of the highest quality, and add hugely to the suspense of each episode.
For me, the best part about Clean Break was that writer Billy Roche managed to incorporate elements of some of the biggest Irish news stories of the past decade, and mix them together to create the perfect drama. The recession, the banking fiasco, organised crime, even the success of Irish boxers at the Olympics, all are intertwined to create a solid plot that is extremely watchable and very enjoyable.