Venue: Town Hall Theatre
Directed by Roisin Stack
Produced by Mephisto Theatre Company
The Mai is a tragic story about the complexity of love and relationships. Written by Marina Carr, The Mai is about the lives of four generations of women and the destructive force of love that irreparably affects them. It challenges the audience to question oppressive traditions such as compulsory motherhood.
The play is revealed through the memories of 30-year-old Millie remembering the events of 1979 when she was sixteen. Her father Robert left for five years, leaving The Mai, her mother, to raise their four children. The extended family includes The Mai’s meddling sisters, aunts and sharp-tongued opium smoking grandmother.
Rich resonant tones of a cello opens the play gradually and complements the plot as it progresses. The stage is set as a family living room with prominent windows over looking a garden and lake. The lighting changes to blue for Millie’s reflections are very effective.
All of the actors give convincing performances. The energy and rhythm onstage captivates the audience immediately. The small details like the grandmothers bent leg when she sits and Millie’s quiet reactions in the background really shows the attention given to these characters. The stage is used well and the pacing is smooth and unforced.
Carr’s script has a haunting quality and witty charm that portrays the lives of these flawed women in a unique style. The dialogue is colourful and humour counteracts the tragedy throughout the play. Margaret O’Sullivan is superb as Grandma Fraochlan who pines for her husband, the nine-fingered fisherman. Frieda McGrath as Julie evokes sympathy from the audience despite Julie’s conservative views on marriage. There are few flaws in this script, although Roberts character could be developed and explained more.
Overall this play is to be admired for its exploration into human behaviour. The nature of family is examined and we are left with a bittersweet feeling. The Mai shows us the importance of change and choice, and the effect it can have on us.
The Mai ran from the 16 Aug to 25 Aug
Tuesdays With Morrie
The Viking Theatre, Clontarf
Directed by Breda Cashe
Reviewed By Madi O’Carroll
It’s not often that a person might find a quaint, homemade theatre up the narrow stairs of an old Irish pub in Clontarf. As though stepping through the Narnian wardrobe, this is the experience to be had when going to see the production of Tuesdays With Morrie in the Viking Theatre, the transformed upstairs of Connolly’s pub in Clontarf, Dublin.
Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, this play follows the autobiographical story of author Mitch Albom and his relationship with his dying college professor, Morrie Schwartz. Every Tuesday they meet, and every Tuesday Mitch is challenged by Morrie’s admirable vigour for life – even on the throes of death. The tiny room barely seats fifty audience members on whatever pub stool, kitchen chair or even old cinema seat you can find. I had the experience of sitting in the front row, a daring choice with the stage nearly on top of me. It paid off, adding nicely to the already intimate mood of the play.
The performances from the two men, Andrew Murray as Albom and Terry Byrne as Morrie, are truly impressive and they share a great dynamic together onstage. Both actors brought tears of laughter and of sorrow to my eyes with their naturalistic approach to their characters. They developed subtly yet consistently as the play progressed. With a simple, neat set, fabulous music and precise lighting it is clear that the raw truth of Albom’s story is the main event, something that needs nothing more than an attentive audience and fantastic performers-neither of which were lacking!
To conclude, this play causes the audience member to go on a necessary trip into the self, and to question what really makes life fulfilling. In the loving but often complicated relationship between a man and an eternal teacher we see the relationships that we have, that we sometimes lose and what priceless knowledge we acquire from them.
Runs from 8th – 25th August.
Reviewed August 15th.
Special Events – Dublin Theatre Festival, Ireland 2012.
YOUNG CRITICS’ PANEL
Young Critics is a programme of the National Association for Youth Drama (NAYD). Every year, 16 youth theatre members from across Ireland come together to watch, workshop, discuss and critique high quality national and international theatre, bringing their unique perspective to the Festival. This event is open to people of all ages.
For further information see www.nayd.ie