Not At Home
Approaching NCAD on Dublin’s Thomas Street, you can hear women’s voices through a speaker. Two women stand in front of a filmed backdrop in the window, talking about travelling for abortions. Tesco shoppers, tourists and passers-by stop, and smokers outside the local pub are watching and listening in silence – it’s arresting.
Inside, the space is divided in three: the reception; the waiting room, where women’s abortion stories collected over the last year are told; and finally the recovery room, where you can take some time to process.
It’s a performance, an exhibition, and a place for women’s stories to be told. It’s not a space for debate, or sides, or arguments – it is injecting the voices of women’s experiences where they have been so often left out, and the result is powerful and deeply affecting.
You can contend with the space how you see fit. Look, or look away, but it’s hard to avoid being immersed. Hearing the women’s stories aloud and unabridged is overwhelming, and you can’t help but contemplate how Ireland has abandoned the 163,500-plus women who have travelled since 1980. It’s a calm, reflective space for people to make up their own minds, but one that definitely packs a political punch.
One of the cruelties of depression is its isolation, a state during which the darkness will not shift. Last year, Jane Deasy's abstract performance Kaperlak found a geographical metaphor for the condition, alluding in its title to the time in Greenland when the night lasts for half a year. Collaborators Nadine Flynn, a playwright, and Aaron Stapleton, a filmmaker, explore a directly similar idea, albeit far more stolidly, in Polar Night, set in the extended night of northernmost Europe, in a production far removed from their ambitions.
Rose (Myrn Devaney) has travelled to this icy outpost to meet her estranged and terminally ill mother, Helen, more to remonstrate than reconcile. It is already a bitter refuge, where her controlling new partner Ulf (Jack Walsh) makes for a fractious carer. “The dark slows everything down,” Noelle Brown’s reluctant matriarch explains, and Stapleton, as director, ensures a tone of universal enervation. It proves contagious.
Advertised as a multidisciplinary piece, it has received a very rudimentary staging, with very brief perfunctory, illegible film interludes, where overdetermined, expository dialogue suggest a more natural fit for radio.
Runs until Sep 23
Walk for Me
Bewley’s Café Theatre at Powerscourt
“How the fuck did I get here?” is a reoccurring thought Kate Stanley Brennan’s character Mary Jane has throughout the show. Dressed in neon pink club gear, she takes us on an epic journey through modern life, starting way back on her first ever dancefloor at the Wes, and eventually transporting us to the underground world of the New York club scene.
It’s a story told through a mix of rhyming spoken word, some sharp acting and original songs, with DJ Handsome Paddy on decks. In the beginning, the tension between each kind of storytelling is a little jarring but by the time we get to New York, and the feel good beats are flowing, it’s ironed itself out into a good rhythm.
Kate Stanley Brennan already has an impressive acting CV, and this is her first play. In it, she raises vital issues, most obviously rape culture, and even in its more traumatised moments, it’s relatable and captivating. She has bags of talent, and the original songs by MissKate, MathMan and Bobofunk are absolute anthems. Even with the heavy material, you’ll be gunning for a dancefloor of your own after.