Hail to the Great Wave: Oblivion, after all, can become a kind of fun

Review: Eadaoin O’Donoghue’s comic new play gives a dark tail to the end of the world

The domestic interior of Eadaoin O’Donoghue’s brightly comic new play for Corcadorca has a hoarded, improvised look to it; a kitchen table built from packing cases is a reminder of those days when homely furniture could be created from tea-chests.

Storage is hidden imperfectly by gingham curtaining and a bed is a laddered bunk. This setting by Owen Boss does not indicate poverty; instead its detail suggests the optimism of a young couple making do and mending with the circumstances of their current life, trapped – it might almost be cocooned – in the aftermath of an ecological catastrophe which might almost be Covid-related.

What is Covid-related is the positioning of the audience at the margins of the playing area where O’Donoghue as Clare and Moe Dunford as Paul applaud their powers of endurance and resourcefulness. They know the world is ending, it’s just, as Clare says wistfully, “it’s endier now”.

Warned to retreat indoors and follow instructions while the authorities attempt to spray the sky, the couple find consolation in sex, in food where the soused pot noodles are gulped at the table set with delicate formality. Hearing of a conga-line of priests weaving around the city chanting “who’s sorry now?” they toast extinction with tequila, marry with a ring curved from tinfoil, distract themselves with charades.

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Charades announces a hallucinatory twist involving, with as much conviction as writer O’Donoghue can muster, the intrusion of Daniel Day Lewis, more myth than man. While director Pat Kiernan provides Dunford’s impersonation of the last of the Mohicans with an inspired use of a sweeping brush this swerve is a lot to get into 60 minutes.

A miscarriage just as the Earth is rescued darkens the originality sparkling in this treatment of an environmental blitz: a great wave. Facing a new world with some reluctance, Clare admits that oblivion, after all, can become a kind of fun.

At Triskel, Christchurch, Cork until December 4th