Howie the Rookie

by Mark O’Rowe

‘Blood, guts and poetic words on the mean streets of Dublin.’

Howie the Rookie, Mark O’Rowe’s award winning play, is a nightmare odyssey which follows rivals, Howie-Lee, a man on the edge and his name-sake, Rookie-Lee on a white-knuckle no-holds-barred ride through the violent streets of working class Dublin; a place where enemies are interchangeable and the most brutal events take on a mythical significance.

In this tale of two halves, we meet unforgettable characters from Ladyboy, the psychotic thug hell-bent on avenging the deaths of his Siamese fighting fish, to the monstrous, belching Avalanche, looking for love from her bar stool. Set in a landscape of feverish drinking, casual sex and visceral violence Howie The Rookie is rich in comedy and deeply poetic: “O’Rowe’s hilarious, pimp-rollin’, blood-soaked text has Shakespeare’s interiority, Marlowe’s Viciousness and a cowboy’s jangling gait; it’s got Joyce’s sense of place and Faulkner’s sense of language” (Time Out Magazine – New York).

This rollercoaster, adrenaline-fuelled journey into Dublin’s underworld is an electrifying tale that will out-do the bloodiest of Jacobean tragedies and leave you shocked, stunned and thirsting for more!

Dates: Tues 10th, Wed 11th and Fri 13th October
Performance Time: 8.00 pm
Length of show: 1.5 hours
Tickets: £10.00

Venue: Barnfield Theatre, Barnfield Road, Exeter EX1 1SN

Ticket Link:

Box Office: 01392 271808


Warning: Contains graphic language that may offend!


Jenna Richards

“…Another awesome play from Substance & Shadow Theatre”

“…Deeply transfixed by the story, reality was but a distant memory, all that existed was the vivid world inside my head, the characters and their struggles. I was deeply present in the narrative – there was no past, there was no future, all there was was now; just the drama unfolding from moment to moment.”

“…Another triumph from Substance and Shadow Theatre, Howie the Rookie is perhaps their best show yet. Another super minimal set, just a black box to sit on, but one of the most vivid shows I’ve seen in a long time.”

The Oracle – Luke Abbot

“…And both actors are superb, this play the sort of thing that can get dull very quickly if the cast aren’t game. Holding a room with nothing but your performance is tough, the absence of any relief from another actor apparent. But there is so much vitality and diversity to both performances that the ride never begins to flag. In fact, as each act closes, it feels far too early. Surely there is longer to be spent in this charming, unpredictable and wildly hilarious world of macho men, Mayan philosophies and fighting fish?

Final Verdict: Two phenomenal performances do the heavy lifting of this play, as a killer script brings an empty space into a vibrant production.”

Classical Journey

“..Another stunning performance from Substance & Shadow Theatre”

Howie the Rookie (Mark O’Rowe, for his mother Patricia, 1999), in the hands of Rosie and Midge, with new collaborator Si Cook, is a masterpiece of minimalism.”

“…If Howie’s closing revelations were stunning, the culmination of Rookie’s tale is devastating. This is a play not to be taken lightly. Both actors are totally focussed and are the focus of attention for a full ninety minutes. Their revelations hit the audience like a series of storm surges, leaving no time for recovery before each successive assault on the senses.”