BAOITE – Abbey Theatre (Peacock Stage) – Review
17 – 25 May 2019
An Taibhdhearc and the Abbey Theatre co-production
Photos by Pat Redmond.
Performed in Irish with English surtitles
This is a new play written, directed and produced by Darach Mac Con Iomaire. It was originally presented as part of the Galway International Arts Festival last year in An Taibhdhearc, the Irish language theatre in Galway. Mac Con Iomaire is known for writing the TG4 crime series Corp + Anam but he has also written several original pieces for the stage along with some adaptations. This play is performed through Irish but there are English subtitles for those not gifted with our native tongue!
The play is set in a coastal fishing village in the west of Ireland who have just received some shocking news. A company has announced it will carry out offshore fracking in their vicinity. The opening scene is a local meeting, where the peacock theatre is transformed into a town hall. Voices come from all corners of the theatre, as both sides of the argument state their case.
After this impressive opening, the play changes its focus, and looks at one particular family. Cáit (Sorcha Ní Chéide) is struggling to become pregnant, despite using various expensive IVF treatments. We meet the other people in Cáit’s life, her husband Simon (Eoin Ó Dubhghaill) along with her brother Tom (Diarmuid De Faoite) and father Pat (Macdara Ó Fátharta). After her third attempt to become pregnant fails, she is left with a difficult and unpalatable decision.
The staging is simple with barren set and an abstract mural on the back wall. A couple of items are used as props, such as a ladder and a net which help to represent the differing locations. Music is used between the various scenes, with Saileog Ní Cheannabháin and Maitiú Ó Casaide playing piano, fiddle and Uilleann pipes.
Although the specifics are quite different, there is an obvious connection between this story and the Corrib gas project. The play had the potential to see how issues such as this affect a local community, but instead went in a different direction, with a tale of love, alcoholism and violence in its place.
It is important for new work such as this to be written in Irish as it helps keep the language alive. For this reason alone, this is a worthwhile venture and has a place in our national theatre. However, this work has too many plot lines for its two hour run time. Each character faces their own dilemmas and we’re never quite sure where the focus is meant to be. There are many interesting ideas and some inventive staging, but ultimately a tighter focus and more insight into the characters themselves would have helped the flow.
Cáit: Sorcha Ní Chéide
Tom: Diarmuid De Faoite
Pat: Macdara Ó Fátharta
Simon: Eoin Ó Dubhghaill
Writer / Director / Producer: Darach Mac Con Iomaire
Set Design: Seán Ó Flaithearta
Costume Design: Clíodhna Hallissey
Lighting Design: Matt Burke
Associate Lighting Designer / Relighter: Eoin Lennon
Live Music: Saileog Ní Cheannabháin
Live Music: Maitiú Ó Casaide
Music / Sound Design: Steve Lynch
Sound Engineering: Joe Bean
Rigger: Eoghan Ó Giobúin
Stage Manager: Úna Ní Fhlatharta
Set Construction: Gavin Morgan
Publicity: Ciara Ní É
Production Manager: Féilim Ó hAoláin