Underneath – Abbey Theatre (Peacock Stage) – Review

Underneath – Abbey Theatre (Peacock Stage) – Review by Emily Elphinstone

Booking Information for Underneath – Dates: 31 March – 13 April – on the Peacock stage

Friday 31 March
Wednesday 5 April
Saturday 8 April
Monday 10 April
Thursday 13 April

With haunting music, stylised movement and dramatic visual elements; the first minute of Underneath contains everything a theatre sceptic might hate. But this transforms effortlessly into a performance so wonderfully irreverent and deeply moving, that it is no wonder that each of the shows making up Pat Kinevane’s glorious trilogy have been lauded around the world.

In his third solo production with Fishamble, Kinevane delves deep into the afterlife. Speaking from beyond the grave, in a dark world of black and gold (which takes us out of the Cobh graveyard where her body rests, and toward the celebrated underworld of the Ancient Egyptians;) our unnamed protagonist has finally found a voice she could never express in life. Interjections to her often-harrowing life story can be as grounded as the sound of foxes in the adjoining tomb, or as whimsical as a Celine Dion singalong: Each may be surreal, but somehow they remain understandable and thoroughly enjoyable in a show that knows no bounds.

More fantastical than Silent or Forgotten, which were also directed by Jim Culleton; Underneath explores every realm of possibility. With wide reaching allusions (including a recurrent reference to ‘A Place in The Sun’) which are supplemented by recorded voice-over, and an intimate repartee with the audience reminiscent of Mrs Brown; it sometimes threatens to be too much of a good thing. However, Kinevane embodies each character so completely, that one can totally visualise the world of the play, wherever this may go; and the pared back (though sumptuously golden) design elements never detract from the story. With a quiet and lonely confessional at the heart of a rollercoaster of a story, it is difficult to adequately express the content, or even the atmosphere of Underneath. However, the crucial element remains the undeniable warmth and charisma of Kinevane as a performer; and wherever he may take the audience, be sure you’ll more than willingly follow.


Pat Kinevane – Written and performed by
Jim Culleton – Director
Denis Clohessy – Sound Design and Composition
Catherine Condell – Costume Stylist
Mariad Whisker – Costume Builder
Emma O’Kane – Choreography Adviser
Gavin Kostick – Dramaturgy by
Eva Scanlan – Produced by

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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