Imagining Liam – The Teachers Club – Review
May 29 – June 10 Monday to Saturday nights.
The Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1.
Photography by Roger Kenny.
Imagining Liam – Written and Directed by David Scott
David Scott throws a light on the ambivalent attitudes that exist in Ireland in relation to drinking and driving. Robert (Manuel Pombo) has been convicted of killing Liam, a six year old boy, while driving after a lunchtime celebration. The play begins with Robert consuming the “couple of drinks” but quickly switches to his arrival in the prison cell where he is to remain for four years. His cell mate is Steve (Eoin O’Sullivan). Naturally enough, they are suspicious initially of each other. Steve has already come to terms with his incarceration. However Robert has to face all the initial problems of adapting to his loss of liberty. He also has great difficulty in accepting what actually happened. He has played “the facts” over in his mind incessantly and has come to believe that Liam’s mother Maggie (Amy Gallagher) also bears some of the responsibility for what happened on the fateful day. He has a recurring nightmare of Maggie visiting his cell at night, as she wants Robert to apologise to her for what happened.
Gradually Robert and Steve reveal more of their respective pasts to each other. Steve acts as a counsellor, in many ways, to Robert as he is a more philosophical figure than him. He has a far better understanding of how self-delusion may operate than Robert has. In a fine piece of story-telling by Eoin O’Sullivan, he describes how Steve came to reinvent relevant details surrounding an important event in his past, not all that dissimilar to the events which overwhelmed Robert. It was a theatrical moment of some consequence as delivered by O’Sullivan.
In Ireland, the consumption of alcohol is the essence of many problems. Ireland by a series of devices chooses not to acknowledge this fact and has a plethora of means to downplay, if not actually to silence its manifold harmful consequences. Scott seeks to break down this self-delusional phenomenon.
While the production is not without its flaws, the overall thrust of the play is valuable as it highlights our all too prevalent attitudes and self-delusions with alcohol. By making them central to his play, Scott is trying to break the omerta of silence which surrounds the misuse of alcohol in Ireland, something that needs to be broken. Scott is to be praised for his attempt to bring to prominence this necessity.