Boom (or Partyface) – Gaiety Theatre – Review by Fran Winston
The Gaiety Theatre, South King Street, Dublin
Until March 31st Mon – Sat 7.30pm, Wednesday & Saturday matinee 2.30pm
Tickets From €18.50 (Including restoration fee)
It is refreshing to see yet another work featuring an exclusively female cast taking to a prominent Irish stage. This play has previously toured various theatres to great acclaim and now it gets another outing in the legendary Gaiety Theatre. Featuring five stalwarts of the Irish stage and screen Claudia Carroll (Fair City), Isobel Mahon (Glenroe, The Clinic), Maria McDermottroe (Glenroe, Killinaskully), Aisling O’Neill (Fair City, The Chastitute) and Rose Henderson (Fair City, Father Ted). In fact the play is written by Mahon and directed by Caroline Fitzgerald so it has a definite feminine leaning.
It features a group of women meeting in the newly built conservatory of Selma Mae to christen it over a few glasses of wine. However, despite outward appearances all have their own tragedies and heartaches lurking beneath the surface. They are a very definite collection of characters; Chloe (Caroll) the glamorous neighbour who is reminiscent of Sorcha from the Ross O’Carroll Kelly works, Selma Mae herself; the typical steadfast heroine struggling through adversity, Her sister Maeve who is tough talking a la the Mae West kind of broad, Carmel, her mother, a social climber cut from the cloth of Hyacinth Bucket and eccentric Bernie who is reminiscent of every quirky character you’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if this is where Mahon drew her influences from but it is impossible not to draw the comparisons.
Every single character here is someone you’ll recognise. Yes, they’re a stereotype but that’s the point. Because you recognise them it does away with the exposition explaining their intent and you can settle in to just watching.
The set is fabulous. You really could be in a posh conservatory in Foxrock or similar. You almost forget that you’re watching a stage and aren’t physically there.
The direction is thoughtful, ensuring each actor gets their chance to shine. At no point does it feel like a one woman show. The ending does feel a bit clunky and forced though and could be a bit more fluid.
However, I have to take a bit of umbrage with O’Neill being cast as Mahon’s older sister. Both are beautiful ladies but Mahon does look older than O’Neill which somewhat shatters the premise of the play. Whilst I appreciate that Mahon may have written Selma with herself in mind if this is the case the older sister should obviously be the older sister.
Despite this, overall this is witty and moving with relatable scenarios and great performances. It’s very much aimed at a female audience and I don’t know a single woman who won’t relate to at least part of it. However, the men there the night I attended seemed to enjoy this insight into the female psyche.
Not high art but good fun, this will leave you with the warm fuzzies and pondering the future of the characters.