It’s Getting Harder and Harder For Me – Smock Alley – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review

It’s Getting Harder and Harder For Me – Smock Alley – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review by David Minogue

Dates Sep 11-14 @ 20:45 – Tickets €14/ 12 conc. – Duration 60 mins
Other Performance Sep 16-17 @ 16:15
Venue: Smock Alley Theatre Boys’ School

When the three characters in Alice Malseed’s play It’s Getting Harder and Harder for Me are first presented to the audience they are not on stage. Instead each woman speaks individually and then in unison from different points of the theatre. The three women Lucy (Adele Gribbon), Geraldine (Emer Casey) and Alex (Christaine O’Mahony) then come to centre stage and tell episodes and moments from their lives in front of the audience. Each person recounts the reality of their lives in Belfast. The awareness of the city’s political past is there but it focuses on their personal histories.

The only thing on the stage is a bench which is used to sit or lie on as the others are presenting their stories. The play could easily have been three separate monologues but instead is delivered as interwoven segments of varying length. Some of these seem incidental but reflect the reality of the women’s lives.  There is a different kind of poignancy in many of the stories with some having more impact emotionally than others.

Each woman is isolated in some fashion. This isolation manifests as loneliness or longing. It is a feeling that only they are aware of even in the midst of family, the work place or a social setting. Addictions and patterns of behaviour hover around them all in their own different ways. Through these women, we are allowed a reflection of the city, its people and also their addictions. It subliminally moves from the personal to a wider context of today’s society.

There is clear beautiful imagery in the play’s language such as the cranes dancing in the grey sky of Belfast. All three performances are noteworthy but some of the most poetic moments are in the words of Geraldine, especially when she stops and questions who and what she is as a woman, what makes her body her own. There is a recognisable candid beauty in the fact of how Geraldine speaks of others such as her husband and then how she regards her own place in the world.

Alice Malseed depicts Belfast through these women’s words but the themes that shape their lives could be applied universally. The play’s director Sarah Baxter also co-created the production with Alice Malseed. What works beautifully in the direction is how the characters are choreographed on stage, they move within their own stories. The audience’s focus is on one character but always aware of what the others have revealed.

Written by Alice Malseed

Directed and co-created by Sarah Baxter

Sound Design – Sean Dennehy

Lighting Design – Maggie Donovan

Costume Design – Triona Humphries

Tech Operator – Líadan Ní Chearbhaill

Cast – Adele Gribbon – Lucy

Emer Casey – Geraldine

Christaine O’Mahony – Alex


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