Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Clare Dunne’

110 minutes without an interval is a long time to spend in the uncomfortable Cottesloe seats, so it is a tribute to Lisa D’Amour’s play that I did so gripped by it, without too much figiting.

Detroit is set in a mid-sized American city superb in the present day (not necessarily Detroit, despite its title). Ben is a casualty of the credit crunch, now in the process of setting up his own business; his nervous wife Mary is very worried. Soon after Kenny & Sharon move in next door, they are invited to a BBQ in the back yard where Ben & Mary learn that they met in rehab, which they’ve just left after three months, have rented the house from a relative and have next to no furniture or belongings. Despite the revelation, the friendship develops and each subsequent scene takes place in the adjoining back yards, most over a meal.

As the play unfolds, things are not at all as they seem. Kenny and Sharon’s story starts to unravel, as does Mary! To say more would be to spoil something that does twist and turn satisfyingly, with a terrific climax that includes a great coup  de theatre. The play does have flaws, notably a party scene which is pushed just a bit too far, but it is sharply written, funny and full of surprises. The performances are outstanding. Will Adamsdale is a brilliant bundle of nervous energy as Kenny, finely matched by Clare Dunn’s manic Sharon. Justine Mitchell is superb as Mary, moving from an ordinary suburban wife to a woman in crisis, whilst Stuart McQuarrie has to make Ben a slow burn and does so very convincingly.

I thought the set was a bit tacky – until the coup! – and found the occasional invasion of the stage hands before scenes had fully finished quite bizarre, but it is a fascinating and captivating ride nonetheless and a new play worth seeing – something that you don’t get to say that often in relation to the NT!

Read Full Post »

When the curtain opens at the Lyttleton (yes, a curtain – that’s a novelty these days) you’re a bit baffled. We’re in what appears to be a squat in an abandoned stately home, yet the play takes place in a Dublin tenement. This is partly explained in a programme essay, but the crux of it is that it robs the play of the intensity of tenement life, even though it is a brilliant design by Bob Crowley.

The problem with the play is its unevenness. The first half is a domestic (black) comedy with not much more than a hint at what’s happening outside (civil war!), played for laughs in Howard Davies’ production, dangerously close to cartoonish. O’Casey leaves much of the story and most of the context to the (shorter) second half which for me is the fundamental flaw. A bit like The Veil, which is currently sharing this theatre (with a design that could be the same stately home before it was abandoned), he could have made so much more of what’s going on outside in a crucial point in Ireland’s history (or at the time he wrote it, current affairs). 

We’re with the Boyle family – father Jack, an old sea dog, is a work shy drunkard; son Johnny is involved with a pre-cursor of the IRA and has lost an arm as a result and daughter Mary has left boyfriend Jerry behind and taken up with Charles (more prospects) Bentham. The family is held together by mother Juno, a feisty matriarch who is both breadwinner and homemaker. Jack’s drinking mate Joxer, who’s cynically taking advantage, is omnipresent – when Juno lets him. They get news of an inheritance and start spending the money before they’ve got it. In the second half, it all unravels. The inheritance never comes through and everything is repossessed, Mary gets pregnant and the IRA come for Johnny who has allegations to answer. 

The real reason for seeing this revival is a set of performances it would be hard to match on any stage. This is the best performance I’ve seen Sinead Cusack give. She beautifully balances the love of her family with the assertiveness needed to keep them together. Ciaran Hinds inhabits Jack, his main concern almost always his next drink, yet naive to Joxer’s exploitation. Risteard Cooper’s Joxer is a brilliant creation, going through life as a chancer and parasite, but with a charm and a swagger. Clare Dunne and Ronan Raftery do well as Mary and Johnny and there’s a fine supporting cast.

It’s an uneven evening, but well worth the visit for the performances alone.

Read Full Post »