There are Gerrys in every walk of life, people who manipulate others to do their bidding and who have no qualms about using whatever means are at their disposal to get what they want. When Gerry is your boss, notorious in Dublin for his firing skills, the quagmire of manipulation goes up a notch. And if you’re in love with this boss, like low-ranking employee Alison, disaster beckons.
With a title recalling the Robert Frost poem Fire and Ice, and a theatre company that takes its name from same, Paul Kennedy’s new play The World Will End In Fire, warns of the destructive nature of desire. Presented in association with Attic Productions, this is the second of Kennedy’s plays to be staged at Theatre Upstairs and follows a successful run of Down By The River.
Alison (Carla McGlynn) knows she shouldn’t be falling in love with Gerry, that he’s probably only using her, but his charismatic and intimidating persona proves too much of a lure and she willingly puts herself forward as a pawn in his nasty schemes. First there is the demand to spy and offer up information on her co-workers. Then Alison is thrown money to doll herself up for an outing to the Shelbourne, where Gerry abandons her. This derogatory treatment is repeated in various set pieces, with Alison continuing to go back to the fire that burns her.
McGlynn gives an engaging solo performance throughout this short production, effortlessly switching accents from southside to northside Dublin, from an old aged gentleman to a Lithuanian neighbour. Although engaging, Alison is herself not a sympathetic character as she in turn dismisses others like Gerry dismisses her, revealing her own uncaring side and pretensions. That is until she meets elderly gentleman Neville Nobson, whose love for his missing son, causes her to question her role in Gerry’s machinations. As it becomes increasingly evident that her boss is stringing her along, taking advantage of her youth and vanity, Alison struggles to disentangle herself from his web. One lie leads to another and the line between what is real and not disappears until no-one in her office can be trusted: “They say this and they say that, and none of it might have any basis in reality.”
Review by Sarah Gilmartin