Compostela – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Performances – 11 – 14 September
Venue – The New Theatre
It is June 2018 and only days after the vote that changed Ireland forever. The 8th amendment to the constitution has been repealed and abortion is legal in Ireland for the first time. We meet our main protagonist Dawn as she has just arrived in Spain to go on the world famous Camino, which ends in the city of Santiago de Compostela. It is an opportunity to disconnect and take a break after many months of canvassing and hard work. She needs some quiet time away from social media and the internet to get her head into a better space, but strangely the repeal debate proves more difficult to escape than she imagined.
This is a one woman show written and starring Miriam Needham. The play was written last year during a residency in the Hawk’s Well Theatre, in Sligo. In a sense, the play is autobiographical as Needham was involved in the campaign and walked a section of the Camino a month after the vote took place. The play delves into the topic of activist burnout, and we see the young woman struggle to adjust to normal life after the emotional high of the vote. It’s not a break down, it’s a break up, she tells herself on numerous occasions.
The play has minimal props, with Needham using a scarf to create a backpack, to change her appearance and for several other purposes. She meets a number of characters along the walk which allows other points of view to be expressed and for some light-hearted moments.
Needham gave canvassing workshops during the campaign and the play offers some interesting insights into the methods used to alter the opinions of the undecided. People were broken into four categories, which varied from ‘strong no’ to ‘strong yes’ with the people in-between being the main point of interest. There is also a realisation that these methods are not always strictly truthful but served the purpose to get people to vote the way she wanted!
The play will resonate with those who were involved with the campaign. It is deeply personal and Needham’s delivery and language is quite passionate at times. There is little attempt to give both sides of the argument, instead we hear a strong feminist viewpoint that is clear in its conviction.