Mark O'Rowe's Made in China is a blackly comic drama set in an imaginary Dublin underworld full of martial arts, rogue cops and savage low-lifes. It was first performed on the Peacock stage of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, on 10 April 2001 (previews from 5 April).
The play has three male characters: Paddy, Hughie and Kilby. Paddy’s weapons of choice are baseball bats and fists. Kilby (who imagines himself as something of an artist) prefers the skill of karate, which he practises on Hughie. Hughie just wants to break the legs of the guy who put the one-legged palmist in hospital. A dreadful accident sets in motion a violent tug-of-war between two criminal footsoldiers over the loyalty of a third. Self-loathing, guilt and loneliness emerge in a frenzied narrative, culminating in a breakneck battle for survival.
In his foreword to Mark O'Rowe Plays: One (Nick Hern Books, 2011), O'Rowe recalls that the play 'was an attempt, I suppose, to transpose the style, or if not the style, then the energy, or if not the energy, then at least the milieu of Howie the Rookie (though it doesn’t really) into the type of play where characters actually talk to each other and not the audience – call it a proper play, or a well-made play, or a play which aspires to being a well-made play – and it culminates in a fight where two of the men take on the third who has the advantage of martial-arts training and the fact that he’s armed with a prosthetic leg, and which really needs to be impeccably and spectacularly choreographed to work.'
The Abbey Theatre production was directed by Gerard Stembridge and designed by Bláithín Sheerin, with Luke Griffin as Paddy, Anthony Brophy as Hughie and Andrew Connolly as Kilby.