Wringer – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review by Frank L.
Written by Stewart Roche
Until the 4th of November, 2018
Elsa (Maeve Fitzgerald), a journalist, arrives at a country house, which lies between Knocknagow and Bansha (even she is incredulous as to its location). She is late for an interview with the well-known actor Jonathan Ravencliffe (Michael James Ford). The hall door is answered by the formidable housekeeper Mrs. Newman (Joan Sheehy). Mrs. Newman gets the better of the initial exchanges between herself and Elsa, so she is initially on the defensive. Elsa is shown into Mr. Ravencliffe’s study where she seems to be in awe of him. She is a connoisseur of his films, which included some Hammer films, and horror movies in general. The interview between her and Mr. Ravencliffe gradually becomes more animated in tone as she probes particular scenes. Mrs. Newman comes in and out bearing drinks and hors d’oeuvre but she is far more than a mere loyal and respected servant of Mr. Ravencliffe.
This play has a beginning, a middle and an end, which is rare these days! It is a cleverly crafted piece that has many engaging lines which all three characters delivered with fine timing, particularly Sheehy as Mrs. Newman when she answers the door at the beginning of the play. Fitzgerald has to move through several emotional changes of gear as Elsa which included nervousness, being awestruck, frightened and authoritative, and she conveys these alterations convincingly. Ford is a suave and urbane Ravencliffe who gradually becomes unsettled by the questions which Elsa asks. Ford too handles, with assurance, the alterations in Ravencliffe’s demeanour, as Elsa finds her stride.
Bewleys Cafe Theatre is a small theatrical space into which Naomi Faughnan has created a set which has a horror movie creepiness about it which adds greatly to the overall ambience of the piece. Aoife Spillane-Hinks’ direction from the beginning to the end keeps the audience focussed on the twists and turns of the story as they are revealed. There is not a dull moment.
In short, this is a well-constructed play, finely executed. It is to be savoured. Anyone in Dublin at lunchtime should try to make the time to see it.