Nora – Project Arts Centre – DTF Review
The Corn Exchange, Ireland – Sept 27-Oct 8
by Belinda McKeon in collaboration with Annie Ryan
This play is set in the near future, in the year 2025. Nora (Annie Ryan) is married to Turlough (Declan Conlan). They are also partners in business and run an art gallery together. On the outside they have all the trappings of success, a stunning house and beautiful furniture. Their 15 year old daughter Emmy (Venetia Bowe) is starting to become a beautiful young woman and receiving admiring glances from those around her. It is the week of the big art fair and they are throwing a party for the great and the good. Just below the surface of their perfect lives, however, the cracks are starting to show.
This is a new play written by Belinda McKeon (who is better known as a novelist) in collaboration with Annie Ryan. Belinda was born in Ireland but now lives in New York and this work seems inspired by the recent swing to the right in the politics of that nation. The play is set in a world where liberal viewpoints have been quashed and the world has reverted to an earlier stance on the role of women and homosexuality. These elements are hinted at and it is never made quite clear what has occurred to allow this change.
The play takes place in the sitting room of the couple’s house, which is filled with modern furniture and a large abstract art mural on the back wall. It evokes a world of affluence and sophistication. Their clothes are of a similar style, and in the opening scene Nora bursts in with a variety of bags filled with elegant, simple clothing. It creates a vision of the high end of the art world.
While this play is billed as being “after Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House” it is actually quite far removed from the original. While the basic roles and characters remain from the previous work, there are substantial differences and alterations. This may annoy some audience members who are expecting a simple update of the original into modern times. However, it does put a new slant on the work and makes it more relevant to our times.
The cast do an impressive job with the text and seem well suited for their respective roles. Annie Ryan is enjoyable in the central part and holds the various strands together, which all revolve around her past and present. The hint of science fiction (or at least an altered social structure) is an unusual touch. It is an interesting device, if a little unresolved. The characters are well drawn out and there is a degree of intrigue in all that transpires. At the end you are left wanting more with many questions still remaining, but it is an enjoyable trip to the land of plenty.
Cast and Creative Team
Directed by Eoghan Carrick
Cast includes: Venetia Bowe, Clare Perkins and Annie Ryan
Set Design: Paul O’Mahony
Costume Design: Katie Crowley
Lighting Design: Sarah Jane Shiels
Sound Design: Philip Stewart