In Our Veins – Abbey Theatre (Peacock Stage) – Review
Bitter Like A Lemon and the Abbey Theatre in association with Dublin Port Company present – In Our Veins – From 10 – 20 April 2019
Lee Coffey has had a relativity successful career as a writer to date. His play Leper + Chip started life in Theatre Upstairs in 2014 and was well received. It later transferred to the Project Arts Centre, the Axis Theatre, The Lyric Theatre and later The Edinburgh Fringe where it won two awards. It was the first part of his Dublin Trilogy, along with Slice The Thief and Peruvian Voodoo. The three plays explored similar worlds of drugs and criminality, delivered in rhyming couplets in monologues by a number of characters. His play From All Sides was part of the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2017 and marked something of a shift in terms of subject matter, if not in style. This latest work marks a significant change with this stylish and diverse production. The play was produced in association with the Dublin Port Company, and the docks play a significant part in the work.
The play follows a family through a number of generations of inner city life in Dublin. We meet a family as they are looking into a coffin where their grandfather lies. The father and mother tell their children that their grandfather was born to a woman who worked in the Monto, the famous red light district of Dublin. We then travel back in time to meet this woman and find out how she ended up working in prostitution. What follows is a whistle stop tour through the generations, showing you key moments in the lives of the family members. We see the moments where they meet and fall in love, but also their living conditions and their daily lives. The section set in the Monto is particularly successful as it explains how brothels worked and who visited hem. We also meet the men who worked in the dock yards and see their daily chores and tasks. The piece shows the changing face of Dublin through the various characters.
The play has six cast members and they all play multiple parts in the different time lines on display. Some of the characters feature in their youth, middle age and old age, with different actors playing each stage of their progression. If it sounds confusing, it isn’t as some clever tricks make the script easy to follow and you’re always aware of who the characters are.
There are some well known faces in the cast with Ian Lloyd Anderson, Catherine Byrne and Gerard Byrne all featuring but there are also some younger cast members who are not overawed, with Aisling O’Mara, Jack Mullarkey and Amilia Stewart all performing admirably.
As you would expect from a production which features so many changes in character and year, a narrator is used to set the scene you are about to see. While exposition is something of a dirty word, it would be difficult to follow the changes without some form of explanation and it allows this fast paced production to flow. Great credit should go to the director, Maisie Lee who makes this complex work fit together. It’s a very enjoyable potted history of the last hundred years of life in Dublin.
Running Time: 1 hour and 30 mins approx. with no interval
Cast: Ian Lloyd Anderson
Cast: Catherine Byrne
Cast: Gerard Byrne
Cast: Aisling O’Mara
Cast: Jack Mullarkey
Cast: Amilia Stewart
Writer: Lee Coffey
Director: Maisie Lee
Movement Director: Paula O’Reilly
Set and Costume Design: Lisa Krugel
Lighting Design: Eoin Byrne
Composer and Sound Design: Denis Clohessy
Photography: Ste Murray