The idea for this play is based on something most of us take for granted. The fact that we can look at our bumpy nose and blame our mother, or see our own hands or gestures in our siblings. My father often talks about the “dúchas”, an Irish way of describing particular family traits passed down through generations. In my family we love to blame the “dúchas” for all our faults and flaws. Growing up Noelle Brown could never do that; she couldn’t find family resemblances in photos or blame her bad points on her ancestors. Noelle Brown was adopted and this play tells her story. It is a very personal story of her search for her birth mother. The work is co-written with Michele Forbes and is delivered through letters spoken as monologues. Projections of letters, old documents and photos form the background and carry the story along.
Noelle was born in the nineteen sixties and adopted when she was just 8 weeks old. It was a shameful period of Irish history when young unmarried mothers had little option but to hand over their babies for adoption. Noelle’s search to uncover the circumstances of her birth is made more difficult by the bureaucracy and brick walls erected by Church and state. Although Noelle had a happy childhood with her loving adoptive parents, the desire to know something of her birth parents drives her to continue her quest for several years.
There is plenty of humour to lighten the story supplied by Noelle’s alter ego Breda Brogan, she is an imaginary private investigator invented by Noelle to help crack the case. Armed with a can of Lynx for defensive purposes this private investigator doesn’t assist Noelle with any break through but she does provide comic relief. Letters from the exuberant Aunty Patty, played by Brid Ni Neachtain, generate more laughs. Aunty Patty’s correspondence is full of trivial news, amusing details and no shortage of unwanted advice. More caricature than character, Aunt Patty represents old-fashioned Ireland. She represents a part of society that wishes to speak about adoption in hushed tones and to hide the facts. She gives ominous warnings to Noelle that nothing good will come from her searching.
This play reminds us that the legacy of these adoptions lives on today. There are still mothers, elderly now, yearning for a lost child. Or like Noelle, lost children well into adulthood, still searching for a sense of belonging.
This entertaining production is just sixty minutes long. Both actresses earned themselves sustained applause for a job well done, a story well told.
Postscript runs at the Civic Theatre Tallaght until December 7th.
Directed by Conor Hanratty,
Producer is Tom Dowling
Review by Helen O’Leary