The Last Days of Cleopatra – The New Theatre – Review
Mar 20th – Apr 1st @ 7.30pm
The is the story of a family going through a difficult time. Their mother has gone into hospital and they all know she won’t be coming out. She’s been ill for a long time and has been getting steadily worse. Her daughter Natalie (Laoisa Sexton) is the one that spends the most time with her in hospital, visiting every day. Natalie has an unusual job, she dresses up as a variety of characters from Elsa to Elmo at children’s parties. It’s not a real job according to her brother Jackey (Rúaidhrí Conroy) who works in Centra. He’s been working there for many years and is almost the manager, as he proudly proclaims. He spends his days trying to get the woman on the pick n mix counter to stop using Tinder and obsessing over his weight. They both have a strained relationship with their father Harry, a former trumpet player who never made it and has been driving a taxi for many years. He still sees himself as a bit of a wiseguy, despite all evidence to the contrary! He wasn’t there for much of their childhood, and neither of them have forgiven him for it. The decline of their mother forces this strained family back into close proximity.
This play is written by young Irish playwright Laoisa Sexton, who also plays the role of Natalie. The play started life on stage in New York in 2014. This is something of a home coming, as this play is very much about Dublin and its inhabitants.
The story is told mainly through monologues, often with two actors on stage at the one time. There are some early sequences where the text bounces quickly from one character to the other which are quite difficult to follow, but as the play progresses, the blocks of text grow longer which helps the flow.
There is little in the way of a set, with a number of wooden boxes on stage, used to create the small amount of furniture required. The lighting by Eamon Fox works well and there are a number of great costumes which set the mood!
This play is 90 minutes without an interval and is quite an intense ride. A lot happens to the characters over the course of the play, possibly too much in truth. There was an attempt to pack too much in and some elements are under developed. Despite this, there are many moments of real humour. Comedy is often said to be one of the most difficult things to write, but Sexton does it with ease. Gerard Adlum plays a variety of filler parts from ‘Skanger’ to ‘Maureen’ and has some of the funnier moments. Despite not being the right shape for the overweight Jackey, Rúaidhrí Conroy plays the downbeat convenience store worker with some style. Ger Carey plays their father with a core of sadness, he’s a man with many regrets. Possibly due to her familiarity with the part, Laoisa Sexton steals the show as the feisty but superstitious Natalie, obsessed with black cats and magpies. This play deserves to be seen on the stage in Dublin and this homecoming is long overdue.
Written by Laoisa Sexton
Directed by Alan King
Featuring Rúaidhrí Conroy, Ger Carey, Gerard Adlum, Laoisa Sexton