Stray

Thu 21st – Sat 23rd February 2013

reviews

Imogen Comrie

at 22:38 on 22nd Feb 2013

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Daniel Molloy has given us a play with some truly beautiful moments, undeniably supported by a strong cast of actors. However, the Troubles in 1970s Ireland seem a strange choice of backdrop for an English writer to adopt in his first foray into what occasionally ‘strayed’ into the territory of melodrama. I do feel that the play would have benefitted from clearer focus on one of the many issues that were offered up to us.

The real strength in the play was the construction of the relationship between Jane (Adele James) and Aiden (Tom Grant). The moments in the bar were convincingly natural, and the banter between the couple as they fell in love was delightful to watch. These two actors must be commended for their believable performances when the content of the play became quite far-fetched. Monologue were skilfully deployed throughout the play and managed to strike at the heart of some of the difficult issues Molloy deals with. Auntie Celine’s monologue at the point of benediction was beautifully delivered by Eliot Salt and managed to portray the incongruities of the Troubles. Although I cannot understand why he was bizarrely directed to pop up from behind a sofa, Thomas (Finbar Fitzgerald) managed to overcome the unintentional comedy thus created to give a dark and sincere performance at the crux of the play’s action. The Northern Irish accents were surprisingly effective throughout, and the actors must be commended for their realistic performances within quite a melodramatic narrative.

The set was extremely well put together, both the kitchen and the bar (what a great bar) served to give the play its evocative setting. The sound bites of new headlines also created the texture of the times for an audience far removed from 1970s Ireland.

Given that the Troubles were a time of real brutality and violence, the play’s practical realisation of this important aspect of the time was unconvincing, for example in the fight scene and shooting of the mother. Having said this, the play achieved moments of real shock and tension in its plot surprises and revelations which were handled with sensitivity and craftsmanship.

All in all, an interesting night at the theatre.

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