Review: The Secrets of Primrose Square

A production that tracks the bleak reality of life during a pandemic in a south Dublin area

Clelia Murphy in The Secrets of Primrose Square. Photograph: Ste Murray

Clelia Murphy in The Secrets of Primrose Square. Photograph: Ste Murray

 

Claudia Carroll’s 2018 novel The Secrets of Primrose Square enjoyed a revival in popularity in 2020. It was the most downloaded book in Ireland and the UK during Covid-19 lockdown and the most popular audio release in August and September.

Set among residents of a suburban square in south Dublin, its blend of heightened domestic problems and community support was surely comforting to readers stuck at home as they adjusted to the bleak reality of life during a pandemic. Carroll has now adapted her book for the stage, and she shifts the third-person narrative prose into the accessible, confessional form of the monologue, which she splits between a pared down cast of three central female characters. 

Susan (Clelia Murphy) is grieving the death of her daughter to a drug overdose. She is aggressive, abrasive, raging with grief. Her daughter Melissa (Megan McDonnell) is grieving the loss of her mother to her sister’s memory; despite being “the good girl”, she is ignored by her parents until she makes her own tragic cry for help. Thankfully, they have their widowed neighbour Jayne (Marion O’Dwyer) to rely upon.

When we first meet Jayne she is about to accept that life has given her a second chance at love. However, it is not her vegan chakra-chanting boyfriend Eric that restores purpose to her life, but her young lost teenage neighbour. Carroll’s story offers us a neat and comforting resolution, but its dramas and conclusion are realistic too. 

Director Mark Lambert allows the actors to perform both to the camera ,as well as across the stage to each other. The resulting frame is natural and intimate, even through the mediating screen. The performances are excellent too. Murphy expertly manages the camera as she swings between extreme emotions, while O’Donnell surprises us with her maturity and O’Dwyer with her youthful exuberance. Set designer Kate Moylan offers us visual simplicity with a deeper metaphor too: three brick gable walls that present both the shared exterior world of Primrose Square and private interior spaces in which the individual stories can unfold.

The Secrets of Primrose Square is a sophisticated presentation from Pat Moylan Productions and its wide release through Draíocht, Blanchardstown, Town Hall Theatre, Galway, Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny, Civic Theatre, Tallaght and Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick, will hopefully ensure a wide audience for its simple message of communion and hope.

Stream at home until July 10th, purchase tickets from:

Draíocht draiocht.ie

Dunamaise Arts Centre – www.dunamaise.ie

Town Hall Theatre tht.ie
Watergate Theatre watergatetheatre.ie
Lime Tree Theatre limetreetheatre.ie
The Civic civictheatre.ie 

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.