REVIEWED BY BINA SHARIF
This incredible and important Irish festival is back and it's a delight as usual.
With great effort and determination the producers, directors and the talent got
together across the Atlantic and did what they do best.
They brought us the festival on line, lucky for us who always look forward for
it's arrival every January.
The festival has six productions of new work from well known companies on either side of
the Atlantic. There are six films and documentaries plus panels on various topics such as
productions during the Pandemic and diversity.
The opening night play is EVA O'CONNOR'S award winning one woman show MUSTARD
produced by Fishamble in Dublin.
Eva O'Connor in "Mustard"
WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY EVE O' CONNOR
Eve is an award winning playwright and performer who brought her, "MAZ &BRICKS"
another one woman play in 2020 Origin Ist and had won an award in Edinburgh Fringe.
Eve is a very powerful actress with great control over her delivery and strong presence.
In her play Mustard, the character's name is also Eve and she is going through difficult times
She is heart broken and devastated about a difficult relationship and Mustard is on her mind.
Mustard is also present in plenty amount throughout the show.
But I think it's a metaphore for healing with it's warmth and
stingging sensation. Eve tells us that Mustard is the only British export to Ireland and she
happened to be in love with a rich British guy who was very much in love with cycling rather than with
her. He abruptly ends the relationship and she takes it to heart. She returns to Ireland and starts
stripping and soaking her body....
with Mustard either to heal or go through more pain of cleaning up.
Her mother thinks that she has gone mad and perhaps she has, and I felt bad for her because her
boy friend didn't seem worth all that heartbreak. It's a comedy with serious elements of a broken heart
trying desperately to heal with the power of a strong, bright yellow condiment such as Mustard.
She gives a strong performance as usual.
"THE GIFTS YOU GAVE THE DARK"
WRITTEN BY: DARREN MURPHY
DIRECTED BY: CAITRIONA McLAUGHIN
Marie Mullen Marty Rea
Irish Repertory Theatre's digital production.
A heart breaking story of a man in Belfast who himself is sick during the time of Pandemic,
and his mother Rose who is struggling to breath in a different city with her brother Larry who
has been taking care of her for many weeks and asks Tom to at least talk to her since he can't make the
Journey to see his mother for the last time. And he does. He talks to her on line.
Rose, played by Marie Mullen, the most brilliant actress in Ireland, is just superb.
She gasps for breath and gasps again and it is so painful to watch. It seems so real, her waiting
for the son, her last moments of remaining life and the wait to hear her son's voice before it's too late.
Tom, played by amazing Marty Rea is told by his uncle Larry, Sean Mcginley that Rose
is holding on just to be with him. "Be with her Tom." "Talk to her." "She is holding on just for you."
These simple words have such an impact because Sean says them so poignantly with depth of feelings.
And Tom along with the fits of awful cough and soaking with diseased sweat struggles to laugh
as he describes the road blocks and dark skies of Belfast. There are beutiful lines in Mr Murphy's script
such as, " That beautiful amber light of your eyes." Tom tells his dying mother while he himself is trying
so hard to not fall apart with the onslaught of the imminent sorrow.
This play is brilliantly written, produced and acted by all the actors.
A MUST SEE
"STAY HOME AND STAY SAFE"
Four short plays commissioned by origin theatre company and written by four Irish playwrights-
Geraldin Aaron, Honor Molloy, Derek Murphy and Ursula Rani Sarma.
All the plays deal with domestic violence which errupted during the Covid -19 Pandemic.
The plays have been self filmed by actors in Dublin and New York.
"ALL THE LAST WEEKEND"
WRITTEN BY: HONOR MOLLOY
DIRECTED AND ACTED BY: ANGEL DESAI
The play takes place during the lockdown of Pandemic and the increase in domestic
violence. A woman is reciting the sad story of another woman who is her neighbor and
she often hears her anguished voice and screams after her husband abuse her.
Cops have been coming to that apt long before the Pandemic lockdown.
The upstair neighbor even hears cops exchanging dialogue about this particular couple.
Cop complains about coming back again to the same apt to investigate domestic
violence. Female cop asks the abused woman if she has ever lost consciousness?
The husband always blame the wife, oh! she is bipolar, she is messed up, she is disturbed.
Sometime the neighbor sits on a sofa to think about her awful existence, he hits her, pulls
her hair. We are told. Many times he...lift her up smashes her on the floor,
lifts her up and smash her against the wall again and again. "You want to play dead?" Ok, play dead. I
have a gun in my sack." he shouts and shouts at her.
Very disturbing to hear the plight of the victim who is totally trapped in this abusive
relationship which is exaggerated with the confinement of Covid-19 lockdown
but the seeds of domestic violence against women has been there since ages and
not much has been done to prevent it.
Then the story shifts. The actress who was reciting the neighbor's story is perhaps now
telling us about her own story in a surrealistic fashion about her own horrible
While she was taking a nice walk on green street in Soho to get bagels
with her husband/lover, he started to abuse her and hit her and she regrets not leaving him years ago.
This particular person ends up having a violent death in her own bathroom soaking
with blood shot by her own husband multiple times.
.A bit confusing for me but whatever, these plays are very tragic depiction of domestic
violence. There are some effective visuals at the end in this particular piece.
Strong writting and performance.
I have always enjoyed Honor Molloy's work. She is a superb writer.
"THE ISOLATION OF Mr MOORE"
WRITTEN BY: DEREK MURPHY
DIRECTED BY: BILLY MANGAN
CAST: NIAMH HOPPER AND DAVID SPAIN
A completely isolated man named Moore, (Brilliant David Spain) goes out and buys tons of beans, all
kinds of beans,
Pinto beans, black beans, red beans, kidney beans right at the beginning of lockdown.
He has a big tv and he watches episodes of gilmore girls in his quiet apt. There is silence all around
him except one afternoon when he hears a knock at his door. He is totally startled and fearful.
Eventually the knocks continues and then he hears a female voice, (Niamh Hopper) ...
He becomes more paranoid, He feels someone is trying to hurt him and never opens the door.
The faint voice of the woman continues often with the knocking. "I hear you breathing Mr Moore."
'I can smell the beans cooking" "Are you alright Mr Moore?" "I am worried about you Mr Moore."
The more he encounter this sound the more frightened he becomes. Then we hear the woman talking
about her husband, Mylo and his aggressive behavior. He still doesn't respond, till it's too late.
One day Mylo smashes her against the wall couple of times and thats the end.
Actually the lady was seeking help from Mr Moore. She wasn't safe from her husband and was
desperate for her life. After that tragic incident Moore is so frightened that he believes Mylo is
going to come aftre him. He starts to put bean cans right outside his door and the next morning they are
all gone. After a few days he has no beans left. At the start of the show he says, "I have nothing." I have
I am sure he also feel terrible for not helping his lady neighbor when she was in trouble. Well, the
lockdown and Covid-19, a tragedy too immense has changed everything in a frighening way.
David Spain is a wonderful actor, great presence and even fun to watch under such difficult
circumstances. The voice over by Niamh Hopper is also very effective tough some time the words are
not clear but I enjpyed this show immensely.
BINA SHARIF: Editor/publisher: artsinternational.blogspot.com