You’ve got to hand it to Cork theatre company, Meridian, who haven excellent new plays/new authors policy – none of your ten minutes bits of stuff, but a chunky shot at the stage. Their latest Festival of New Theatre has the tagline: Blood and Bandage, created in Cork.
So, it was off to the Cork Granary Theatre for two pieces of new work. Beaten by Ailis Ni Riain and Thailand: What’s Love Got To Do With It? By Mairtin de Gogain and Brian Desmond. Beaten is a dramatic harsh three-hander of a girl who has suffered paralysing punishment, beaten like a dog by a demented drunken Dada. We meet her in what could be an asylum as she twitches in pain as memories surround her in sound (An excellent soundscape by Cormac O’Connor). Airnin, the girl in dirty white dress, is joined by two brothers who could be real or just voices in her head but the physical presence of Olan, who acts out the Dada, was so intense that some of the audience left. The other brother, the crippled Enna, scares by changing moods like a disco light.
The dialogue is often intense and uses words in a new way to heighten tension – in the shelly of a nutnut. Lines and images repeat and repeat to build up a tense picture of ruined hopeless lives, where the neighbours never hear and are never to be told – for nothing at all. Beaten for nothing at all.
Airnin becomes the beaten and protecting mother so often and what gestures of family comfort are ripped out and beaten out of these characters. While the content of subject matter is not new, the writer’s skill with words and stage images is good.
Lyndel Dowd was powerful as Airnin and Conor O’Riordan as Olan gave a high-octane performance, Chris Schmidt-Martin gave Enna a real presence and Tony McCleane-Fay directed with exacting detail.
The Thailand monologue disappointed and it became a crude stand-up comedy routine of cheap jokes, sexist remarks of cheap sex from a moronic character well played by Mairtin de Cogain where the audience were up for the craic and roared uproariously at lines about his mickey being so sore from sex he had to dip it in a pot of Sudocream.
Brian Desmond directed and he also directed Waterford author Liam Heylin’s Love Peace And Robbery for Meridian. Heylin’s play also along with Nolan’s Sky Road have gotten Zebbie new play nominations