Theatre Upstairs, Lanigan’s, Dublin
The immediacy of Jimmy Murphy’s short play is both its strength and its weakness.
It is set outside a half-abandoned apartment complex on the outskirts of Dublin, a site that once represented the future for 36-year-old Niamh (Una Kavanagh), who is about to be evicted. Niamh has lost her business and her boyfriend too. Meanwhile, Ciara (Roseanne Purcell), a single mother, is about to start her life in Block G. The city council has given her the keys to one of the apartments; a first home for her and her three young children.
Their lives collide briefly in this bleak setting, each one damned by her material reality: negative equity in Niamh’s case; the shortfalls of the welfare state in Ciara’s.
So far, so familiar, so contemporary. But the pertinence of Murphy’s subject matter sits uneasily with the extremity of the situation in which he places the women, the result best described as melodramatic polemic.
Peter Gaynor’s production, however, wrests intense performances from the actors in the confined space of Theatre Upstairs. Kavanagh carries a tremor that intensifies to apoplectic proportions in a climactic monologue in which she rages against the unfairness of the system that has damned her to her homeless, bankrupt fate, while Purcell delivers her own lament about dreams thwarted by early motherhood with an equally moving understated regret.
Both women move through the aisle area of the theatre with ease, a device which makes the audience silent witnesses to Perfidia’s soap-operatic climax. The histrionic final moments become difficult to watch in the intimate surroundings, as these natural adversaries find sympathy for each other despite their differences.
Runs until July 14th