Our Island – Project Arts Centre – Review – Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival


MIRARI Productions presents Our IslandBy Barry McStay

Directed by Maisie Lee

6th-12th September at the Project Cube

Review by Audrey Devereux

The Fringe Festival is now upon us when all things theatrical and wonderful grace every playable space in Dublin from pub garrets to side-alleyways to all the other tiny but well known venues across Dublin. This week project Cube hosts Mirari’s new play by Barry McStay, with assured direction from Maisie Lee. An impressive cast give flawlessly timed performances in Lee’s production, making clever use of Rebekka Duffy’s unfussy set.

Two strangers meet a park bench in London, after a short exchange we discover sullen Jack (Peter Corboy) is just over from Ireland while arch Londoner Bradley is a writer: on demand, he begins to tell Jack a story of a little girl who, against all advice, liked to dress as a Martian. Through a clever scene change segue with original score we see them fall in love and set up home just in time for Christmas and the impending visit of Jack’s parents from Dublin. Add Jack’s lovable but brash friend Charlie (Siobhán Cullen) and her boorish boyfriend Dean (Jamie O’Neill) plus several bottles of wine into the mix and tensions rise as Jack prepares for the face-off of all face offs with his reportedly very traditional and straight-laced mum and Dad (played by Bairbre Ní Chaoimh and Martin Maguire respectively). What follows is a night of revelations sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, always engaging.

McStays’ play deftly addresses everything from the notion of family, to Nationhood and sexuality in a light-handed yet thought provoking way. In the director’s programme note, Lee writes that McStay’s play has a quality that is both ‘specific and universal’ and that is exactly what the audience finds in this well observed and often moving look at people in crisis. Jack’s family have undergone tumultuous change, much like Ireland has over the past few years. Without patronising, McStay shows us how difficult a transition change can be for the older generation who are just doing their best, Jack’s mum Annie repeats several times during the play ‘I’m here aren’t I?’ when Jack questions her support. One of the questions the play poses is this: is anyone’s best good enough? McStay lets the audience draw their own conclusions.

Interestingly in the closing scene of the play Jack and Bradley fantasize flying on a magic carpet to an idyllic getaway ‘Not Ireland’ says Jack, they dream up somewhere else ‘our island’ replies Bradley, somewhere that doesn’t exist just yet. McStay’s play suggests maybe it will.

I can see this play on a larger stage soon, gaining an even wider audience, as it richly deserves. Go see.

Our IslandBy Barry McStay

6th-12th September at the Project Cube

CAST: Peter Corboy  / Siobhán Cullen / Martin Maguire  / Rob Malone  / Bairbre Ní Chaoimh / Jamie O’Neill

Philip Stewart

Rebekka Duffy

John Crudden

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