The Mai – Review by Aoife Lanigan

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


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