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A CurtainUp London Review
It seems to be a hallmark of Irish plays that the mothers fuss over their sons and take the girls for granted. Teresa goes off to the shops to buy, for her important visitor, quiche, which used to be her home made speciality and she has a happy thought that her whole family will be together and not only will they be together she imagines that they might be in harmony. It becomes obvious that Niamh has no wish to see her brother and the tension in her body language tells us that something is very wrong in her relationship with her brother. Niamh loses her purse and is forced to return to her mother's home although she had planned not to be there at the same time as Nial.
Nial arrives with Ruth (Rebecca O'Mara) in tow, a Englishwoman and motivator for this family visit but while she expects a cosy family reunion what develops is very different. Although everyone is on very best behaviour and Ruth is layering on the sacharin sweetness, anxious to be liked, there is a nasty undercurrent here. Two bombshells are dropped. Ruth and Neil were married the day before with none of his family there and Ruth lets slip that her mother wasn't totally happy about her marrying Nial because of his "history". Fifteen years ago Nial went to prison for the murder of 12 year old Hilary, the best friend of his sister Niamh. We see flashback scenes, of Niamh and Hilary together having fun.
Nial is now a moderately successful artist; prison has been the making of him and he has moved on with the help of curator Ruth but his family have been trapped, living with the effects of his crime, atoning daily in the community for his sin and their being tainted by association. As the evening progresses so the pain starts to emerge and Ruth starts to regret upsetting the false equilibrium by insisting on meeting Nial's family. We groan when Teresa announces she has money for Nial and none for her daughters, money he doesn't even want.
The performances are totally convincing in this production which has come from County Meath where director David Horan directed it first in November 2009. The Tesco bought quiche becomes something of a running joke. In between the agony there is humour, closely observed family quirks to lighten the terrible tragedy and start a debate as to who are the victims of a crime. Deirdre Kinahan's play puts this family's dysfunction and denial under a shattering magnifying glass. It is interesting to hear about the impact of crime on the family of the perpetrator, something not often written about.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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