Witness – Civic Theatre – Review


This is a tale told from two perspectives, a mother and a son. It is the story of a crime that became headline news and shocked a nation, but the origin seems small and everyday. Shannon is not the perfect mother. She has had problems with alcohol and wasn’t there for her son during his formative years. She left him with her father while she slowly got her act together. Now Stephen is a teenager and living with his mother again, but he harbours a secret from his past that threatens to ruin his adult life.

Kate Stanley Brennan is the sole performer in this production, and she changes between mother and son by simply pulling the hood on her track suit up and down. The two characters are very different. The son Stephen is loud, boisterous and not very bright. His mother is more controlled, while she tries to hold down a job and atone for the sins of her past. Brennan moves deftly between the two roles and it is an intense performance that commands the room. There were moments where you lose yourself completely in this slowly unravelling tale.

The story is delivered in drip feed fashion, so much so that you spend the early segments of the story trying to figure out who is talking. This is a deliberate tool that allows you to see the humanity behind those that have committed awful crimes, and that there is often more to the situation than meets the eye. This is a difficult topic dealt with in an intelligent fashion, focusing on the characters behind the stories and in some way explaining how they could come about. The language is coarse and the subject matter arduous, but for those strong willed, it is rewarding. It is a very impressive tale and performance, that will last with you long after you’ve left the theatre.

Witness by Carmel Winters.

23 – 28 February // 8:15pm – Loose End Studio, Civic Tallaght

Written and Directed by Carmel Winters
Performed by Kate Stanley Brennan

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