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28 July 2010
Martin McDonagh’s 14 year old play is given a well deserved revival. Written in an almost musical Irish dialect the language is vivid and often biting, however, you certainly don’t have to be Irish to enjoy this play.
The action takes place in a run down kitchen in Connemara in the West of Ireland. Familiar keepsakes and tokens are displayed, including the slogan ‘May you be half an hour in Heaven, afore the Devil knows you’re dead’ printed on a tea towel. (My mother has the ceramic version!)
In front of a black range sits a rocking chair where Mag, the elderly matriarch resides, rarely leaving her throne. As her daughter Maureen enters the room, the slightly wicked banter begins. Maureen is soaked and as Mag observes ‘Wet, Maureen?’
From the first utterances from Mag’s mouth I was mesmerized by Rosaleen Lineham,s majestic performance. She was sublime as the twisted and manipulative mother with her own demons. Later when she informs young Ray Dooley (Terence Keeley) that she has a ‘urine infection’ you almost felt envious!
Maureen is played with assurance by Susan Lynch and when invited to a leaving party by Pato Dooley (David Ganley) she is hell bent on catching her prey and escaping from the drudgery of life with Mag.
This was a cast to relish, and the audience were hooked. Firstly lulled into a false sense of security laughing at the pathos of poor Maureen’s situation, a spinster left to look after her cantankerous ‘oul’ mother who lives on a diet of Complan (the lumps a constant source of amusement), porridge and Kimberleys.
David Ganley’s ‘Pato‘ is both tender and pathetic when reciting a letter written for Maureen, asking her to join him in a new life in Boston. The sympathetic ‘ahhhs’ from a riveted audience were evidence that Ganley had hit the right note.
Terence Keeley ‘s youngster, ‘Ray’ also came into his own in the second act, almost bouncing of the walls, or perhaps he had picked up on the audience’s anticipation as to who will be in receipt of Pato’s important missive. There were some great farcical moments in this scene and I have rarely seen an audience so locked into a performance.
It all ends in – well I won’t say, but the issues are much deeper than we first believe. I suggest you get to the Young Vic half an hour before the devil knows you’re there!
The Young Vic, 66 The Cut, London SE1 8LZ 15 until 21 August
Tickets and information www.youngvic.org 0207 922 2922 £19.50
Monday – Saturday: 7:30pm matinees: 2:30pm
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