Review: Flesh and Blood Women

Maria Connolly steals the show in this trio of plays of new writing

Venue: Baby Grand

Date Reviewed: May 12th, 2014

Website: goh.co.uk

Phone: 1

Mon, May 12, 2014, 17:14

   

****


This trilogy of new writing is all about women whose stories have been dramatised from real-life experiences. Green Shoot Productions has pulled together 19 practitioners for this all-female production, led by director Noreen Kershaw and a tantalising trio of writers: Jo Egan, Brenda Murphy, and first-timer Dawn Purvis, a former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party and now an independent peace campaigner.

The three plays could not be more different. Murphy’s Two Sore Legs is a ballsy monologue focused upon her glamorous, courageous mother, who bore six children to a married man who lived nearby. In Sweeties, Egan recalls the effects of a disturbing childhood incident from the contrasting points of view of two sisters on the day of a friend’s funeral. And Purvis’s Picking Up Worms is a commendably witty, autobiographical take on the turbulent days of the 1974 Ulster Workers’ Council strike, as seen through the eyes of eight year-old Lisa.

Egan has mined searching, intimate conversations to create her swirling, multi-layered memory play. Kerri Quinn gives a finely balanced performance as Tracy, a deeply damaged, agoraphobic woman, still traumatised by the queasy adolescent sexual escapades she shared with her friend Paula. Rosie McClelland is her sensible but disbelieving sister Jen, Kat Regan a sparky, gleeful young Paula.

In Purvis’s play, Quinn takes on the child’s role, capturing the questioning innocence of a little girl in a piece that affectionately and uncompromisingly captures a close-knit Protestant community at a crucial point in its history. But Maria Connolly’s virtuosity in Two Sore Legs is the show-stopper. Her portrayal of Bridget Murphy is all sass, swagger and stilettos, as she brings children into the world for the sheer joy of them, defies gossips and faces down priests, all in the name of the man she loves.

The stylish morphing of the republican shades of Murphy’s west Belfast into the red, white and blue of Purvis’s loyalist terraces is just one example of the high production values and directorial cohesion of a well-packaged evening. Until May 24, then in Omagh, Limavady, Downpatrick, Coalisland

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