Wake – Viking Theatre – Review
by Frank L
Mon 7 Nov 2022 Sat 19 Nov 2022
Written & Performed by Irene Kelleher
The title describes accurately the setting. It is indeed a wake. The set consists of six lectern-like structures set in two rows of three. There is projected onto the back wall, various images which give an impression of the interior of the house and its garden in which the action takes place. This is a one-woman show with Irene Kelleher playing all the various characters.
The two principal mourners are Lily (Irene Kelleher) and her Dad. Lily’s mother is the deceased. The action begins with Lily and her father alone in the family home waiting for the coffin and the undertakers to arrive which surprisingly manages to lead to a misunderstanding. When that is sorted the various mourners appear which are a plethora of relatives and friends including sisters of the deceased, a variety of neighbours, Lily’s first love, an octogenarian, a toothless old man and an unknown stranger. They are a fair representation of the diverse individuals who attend a funeral and its various traditional activities. Small talk initially is the order of the day but Lily is not a conventional daughter. She is single. The pleasantries surrounding a funeral are not her gig.
Kelleher emphasises the importance of food and drink at a wake. There is considerable discussion by the various aunts of the cakes and confections which they have brought with them. Kelleher is adept at delineating the quirks of these ladies. She also depicts the male characters which include the remote gruff exterior of the father and the teenage memories of her crush on her first love. However, the male character she makes her own is the toothless octogenarian who also has a bit of a thirst. Funerals often lead to comic situations when the drink starts to flow and this one is no exception. Kelleher manages to convey the personalities and flaws of this diverse troupe with perception and a good deal of comedy.
This is a benign and friendly look at some of the traditions and conventions which surround a funeral. Kelleher creates a credible ambience as the various mourners interact and is adept at emphasising their idiosyncracies and foibles. It is all done with a shrewd eye and with a great awareness of the comic. The end result is over an hour’s worth of fun entertainment.
Written & Performed by: Irene Kelleher
Directed by: Geoff Gould
Sound and Video Design by: Cormac O’ Connor
Lighting Design by: Steve Neale
Set Design by: Davy Dummigan