The Irish Times reviews Máire A Woman of Derry at The New Theatre, Dublin.



In presenting us with a self-proclaimed wino, a so-called "Aristotle on the bottle", he seems to be edging into "issue orientated" theatre that can be preachy at best, oppressive at worst. But then it seems he's giving that initial scheme a miss entirely, and is instead bathing the audience in folksy, homely humour that is remarkably mundane.

That the events seem to lack drama is, of course, the point, and Foster eludes said danger by producing a riveting and wretched second act. Ultimately, the simplicity of a woman's life is on display, complicated by her alcoholism.

Máire McLaughlin: teenage bride, resident of Derry, motherless daughter with an alcoholic father, cheery neighbour, loving wife - she is easily labeled and easily met, even as she is, in Act One, brandishing a naggon and darkly alluding to her present life on the street before she spins off into another reminiscence of her courtship, marriage, and married life.

A welcomed pregnancy, a crew of friends with names the like of Tina the Tap, Big Brady, and Jimmy the Tadpole, a husband off the dole, and everything's bright as sunshine until the outside world intrudes in the form of Bloody Sunday, cancer, and depression.

It is in Act Two that Carmel McCafferty, who plays Máire, firmly and unwaveringly demands our attention. The naggon has taken effect, and her performance, as she slowly deteriorates on her latest bender and soldiers on through her story, becomes the remarkable thing that it is: a drunk who's not the life and soul of the party, but an alcoholic caught in the grips of her addiction. In the last 45 minutes of the show, we get the point and the power of the piece, not so much in what Máire says, but in how she struggles to say it.

Susan Conley

Máire - A Woman of Derry runs until July 6th. Booking at: 6703361