The Seamster’s Daughter – Smock Alley – Review by Simon Jewell
Glass Mask Theatre – 15 Apr – 4 May 2019 | 8pm | 3pm on Sat (excl 4 May) | Boys’ School
The Seamster’s Daughter tells the story of Alison (Rachel Pilkington), a thirty-nine-year-old woman who lives at home with her mother (Úna Crawford O’Brien). Alison had dreams of going to college (despite her anxieties of being a mature student) but her life still seems to be on hold, much to her mother’s dismay. The other member of the household is Alison’s daughter Megan (Aoife O’Sullivan) who is planning a trip to America. She arrives home just after getting a new passport and the story begins to unravel as she finds her mother and grandmother arguing.
The argument revolves around the night that Megan was conceived. To her knowledge, her mother had a one-night-stand and she blames her for the lack of a father figure in her life (and the fact she had difficulties in renewing her passport). Secrets are revealed to Megan about what happened that fateful night and she is ultimately told that she was conceived through rape. She continues to want to seek out her birth father, much to her mother and grandmother’s dismay. There is great tension in the opening act, where three generations of women deal with the thoughts of rape, abortion and being a victim. The second act focuses on Megan’s attempts to meet her father.
This production has a gripping storyline that unfolds much like a soap opera. The set is overloaded with props and decor to give a sense of being in their back garden. The stage is littered with garden chairs, a block of wood and a hammock that takes up the majority of the limited stage space and its inclusion in the play seems more of an aesthetic over-thought than a technical necessity for the piece. It’s a very realistic play in its approach and stylisation and whilst the acting at times struggles to bring conviction to a somewhat convoluted plot, there are some strong and believable performances. It’s a conflicting drama, that deals with contemporary topics such as consent, choice, and the right to life. It does this in a telling way, by bringing in three different generations of women that are distinctly unique in their experiences and also their approach to these issues. At 2 hours 45 minutes running time (including interval), it’s quite a lengthy piece of drama that at times struggles to keep the attention. Overall, it’s a challenging theme, that deals with sensitive issues in a thought-provoking and empathetic way.
The Seamster’s Daughter runs at Smock Alley Theatre from 15th April – 4th May
8 pm (3 pm on Sat excl 4 May) in the Boys’ School.
Written and directed by: Jimmy Murphy
Cast: Úna Crawford O’Brien, Michael Ford-Fitzgerald, Aoife O’Sullivan, and Rachel Pilkington.