Charlie’s a Clepto – Axis Ballymun – Review by Bridget Deevy
Irish Tour Details below.
In this new one-woman play, written and performed by Claire Monnelly, directed by Aaron Monaghan, and produced by Axis: Ballymun, we meet the eponymous Charlie, as she faces into a turbulent 24hrs that will make or break her. Charlie’s Da is a small time crook, her Ma does her best and Charlie is trying hard to get her life together, so she can regain custody of her son.
We are brought at a galloping pace, by Charlie, through the streets of her inner city neighbourhood, meeting a colourful cast of characters, as she races to rectify a spiralling series of catastrophes that threaten to upend her world, as her big meeting with ‘the social’ looms ever closer. Intercut with these scenes are slightly less frenetic flashbacks, where we catch glimpses of Charlie’s past and begin to fill in the story of the woman we see before us – childhood memories, her first time stealing; (a Stinger bar), and her instinctive impulse for self sabotage.
Monnelly’s writing style is gripping and the world she creates is like her lead character – feisty and charming, despite its disadvantages. There are plenty of belly laughs here too, with punch lines coming from the caricatures she creates, as well as her keen descriptive ability; ‘he was no particular breed (of dog), just all the good ones in together, ya know – Alsatian, Rottweiler’. At times however, the delivery fails to mine all the gold in the script, with occasional lines lost in the barrage of speech.
While the play works primarily as a comedy, perhaps more interesting here are the themes it manages to weave throughout. In a serious moment, Charlie muses that maybe if the father of her child had been there to help her, to take the baby for a minute while she had a wash, gave her a break, she may not have ended up as she did, and although Charlie’s journey is undoubtedly one of self reflection, nonetheless, the play raises questions around single parenthood; the state’s role in supporting young parents and the scrutiny that people from poorer socio economic backgrounds are subject to. These are salient questions, yet couched nicely within a play that has a lightness of touch and a big heart.
Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise.
Tuesday 30th May, 8pm. Tickets: €16/€14. Booking & Info: 057 866 3355 / http://www.dunamaise.ie
Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda.
Thursday 1st June, 8.30pm. Tickets: €16/14. Booking & Info: 041 9875140 | http://www.droichead.com
Friday 2nd June, 8.15pm. Tickets: €15/12. Booking & Info: 01 8852622 / http://www.draiocht.ie
Mermaid County Wicklow Arts Centre, Bray.
Saturday 3rd June, 8pm. Tickets: €16/14. Booking & Info: 01 272 4030 / http://www.mermaidartscentre.ie
Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge.
Thursday 8th June, 8pm. Tickets €15/12. Booking & Info: 045 448327 / http://www.riverbank.ie