Mary Massacre By Johnny McKnight – Review by Audrey Devereux
The Viking Theatre is one of those intimate spaces that should be applauded for their very existence. No doubt operating on a tight budget, looking at their website they seem to be bring a constant stream of interesting new theatre to the greater Dublin audience. In a venue of this sort you can expect intimate story telling, an altogether different experience than seeing a piece on a larger stage. This was my first ever visit to the Viking and it didn’t disappoint. MARY MASSacre is the story of Jenny, an alcohol-dependent housewife at the end of her tether, she is also at the end of her relationship with husband Gavin and Layla, a ‘thirty-something’ Argos worker, looking for love on-line. In this often bitingly funny and sometimes heart-wrenching piece, written by Johnny McKnight, Layla will unwittingly discover the tragic secret at the heart of Gavin and Jenny’s shattered marriage.
Jenn McGuirk gives the spikey, boozy Jenny, once a ‘force of nature, now a natural disaster’, a vulnerable core and Layla, played by Caroline O’Boyle, is down-to-earth, yet optimistic in the face of so much male false advertising on-line. Both of the women give refreshingly understated and measured performances, which make this piece shine, especially in the tragi-comic denouement, where the two women finally meet, at the eponymous Marymass festival, on Irvine Moor in Scotland.
Incidentally, both actors do an excellent Ayrshire accent (quick note: ‘Irvine’ is pronounced ‘Er-vin’ over there).
The direction is tight thanks to consulting director Aoife Spillane-Hinks. The two characters lives are separated on-stage by a fortune teller’s table, one side a sterile couch and coffee-table for Jenny and the other side all soft furnishings and pretty dresses for Layla. Lighting and sound is effectively used in this small space.
All of the above combined to highlight the gripping performances of the cast. Go see.
Consulting Director: Aoife Spillane-Hinks
Cast: Jenn McGuirk and Caroline O’Boyle
Viking Theatre, Connolly’s-The Sheds, Clontarf
January 19th to 31st.
Booking: 087 1129970