Monster? – Theatre Upstairs – Review by P McGovern
Until April 29th
Monster? By Emily Gillmor Murphy at Theatre Upstairs, Burgh Quay
“Choices …” The first line is given time to hang in the air signalling the central theme of Emily Gillmor Murphy’s new play at Theatre Upstairs. Right choices, wrong choices; casual or considered; true, independent choices as distinct from those imposed by unwanted circumstances, by relationships or societal pressures.
The play centres on Nell, a young barmaid who finds herself pregnant after a single unplanned sexual escapade with Adam, a rookie garda she likes well enough but doesn’t love. Aisling O’Mara‘s Nell leads us through a tangle of emotions in her struggle to arrive at the best decision. Ah yes, we are back to choices. Best for whom? For her? For Adam? The baby? She takes issue with Adam’s reference to “our” baby: the baby isn’t his; it isn’t hers either. The baby doesn’t “belong” to anyone but itself. She is a modern woman, looking at her dilemma with a mixture of passionate involvement and detached analysis.
O’Neill’s Adam is not long out of Templemore and being made fun of, indeed bullied, in the station. It is easy to see why. He is a bit gormless, gauche. He doesn’t think Nell can be pregnant because “we only did it once”… He buys her artificial flowers because he genuinely thought she’d prefer them, as she seems to be too busy to remember to change their water. But he’ll replace them now that he realises his gaffe. O’Neill underplays the part to perfection, ensuring that he never seems a cheapskate or a mere jerk. He is well-meaning and good-natured, but Nell is right: he is not husband – or father – material. If his final line, “you’re a monster” is out of character, it at least sets up the debate. (And yes, if there was an epilogue Dave would surely apologise and withdraw the remark).
Initially, Nell’s sole confidant is Ru, a bravura performance from Michael Glenn Murphy, bursting with energy, fuelled by shots of vodka and sniffs of coke, but beneath a surface fixation with sex and high-octane living there beats a big, kind heart.
Decisions are easy in the world of make-believe, into which both Nell and Adam escape occasionally. In fantasy dream worlds, solutions offer themselves readily; things always work out for the best. The real world, however, is rather more complicated. Recollections of the same events vary wildly. The eventual solution is thoroughly of our time, but will not be revealed here. Karl Shiels directs this thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable play at Theatre Upstairs, which continues until Saturday 29th April.
Photos by Bryan Meade
Emily Gillmor Murphy / WRITER
Karl Shiels / DIRECTOR
Aisling O’Mara / NELL
Michael Glenn Murphy / RU
Jamie O’Neill / ADAM
Lisa Krugel / SET DESIGN
Eoin Stapleton / LIGHTING DESIGN
Laura Honan / PRODUCER