Haunted – Abbey Theatre (Peacock) – Review
by Frank L.
Dates: 11 November – 3 December
Haunted – Written and Performed by Tara Flynn
Photographer – Ruth Medjber
The 8th Amendment to the Consitution came into existence following a highly divisive electoral campaign. It continued to be divisive throughout its existence. Its demise with its repeal by a further referendum required many individuals, most notably women who had abortions, to publically tell their stories. Their courage in so doing was a major contributor to making the electorate vote to repeal the 8th.
Tara Flynn was one of those women who was prominent and active in that campaign. It took both moral and physical courage to make public the fact that you had chosen to have an abortion. In this play, Flynn describes her journey to participate in the referendum campaign. “See, just months before I shared my secret with the world, my dad died. In the three years since, there hasn’t been time for grief.” The campaign sucked her into the air and whipped her mercilessly around – like the 1996 film Twister. She did not hit the ground for three years and when she does, she hits it with a “Thunk”. It is at that point the play begins and Flynn describes to her therapist many issues such as her childhood, her career, her family, and her relationship with her father.
Flynn is a physical actress. She has only one prop on stage which is a rectangular armchair of substantial size. In the performance with her considerable strength, she moves it confidently around the stage, on its side or its back depending on what role she requires it to undertake. She covers a great deal from 1978 when she was a child in County Cork up to the campaign itself. She intertwines her story with her father’s childhood stories from County Clare which included the healer and storyteller Biddy Early from the 1800s. Flynn with her impressive vitality and powers of storytelling manages to explain how the combination of the mores of Ireland, her abortion and the need to alter those mores came to dominate her life. The referendum was critical. The referendum is now won but her passion for women’s reproductive rights remains undimmed, but “it’s not my story anymore. I go to protests, but I’m happier at the back”.
It may be that the repeal of the 8th Amendment campaign is too recent for such a reflective piece but Flynn who was one of the principal spokespersons with this play has recorded how important it has been in her life and its lasting effects on her. Inevitably, with the all-important objective achieved by winning there was a sense of a vacuum. However, Flynn by telling the campaign story from a wide angle, including the glummer bits, fills that vacuum.
It is a brave story told with energy, wit and humour. On a historical front, it is an important record of the campaign to repeal the 8th by a woman who was actively involved.
Haunted – Credits
Writer and performer: Tara Flynn
Director and Dramaturg: Phillip McMahon
Associate Director: Chris Moran
Set and Costume Design: Molly O’Cathain
Lighting Design: Sinéad McKenna
Sound Design: Jenny O’Malley
Producer: Jennifer Jennings and Laura Rigney
Graphic Design: Niall Sweeney
PR: Conleth Teevan
Publicity Photography: Patricio Cassinoni
Promotional Video: Olga Kuzmenko