This week’s theatre highlights: Sure Look It, Fuck It and The Children

Clare Dunne’s exuberant debut, and a challenging moral puzzle at the Gate

Sure Look It, Fuck It

Project Arts Centre, Dublin

March 19th-23rd, 7.30pm (Sat mat 2.30pm) €15-€22, projectartscentre.ie

“The thing is, ya see, I keep forgetting to stay ambitious,” confesses Missy. You know where she’s coming from. A young Dubliner, recently returned from New York with only debt and dependence to show for it, she now divides her time between hapless interviews, deepening life worries and a head full of music. No one could accuse her creator and performer of lack of drive, though.

Clare Dunne, already an accomplished actor, is now making another mark as a writer. Her screenplay, Herself, is about to go into production for Element Pictures and Sharon Horgan's company Merman, starring Dunne as a young mother fleeing abuse against the backdrop of the housing crisis. Remarkably, Sure Look It, Fuck It (which the show, threaded with rhyme and live music, makes its refrain; alternately defeatist and galvanising) is Dunne's playwriting debut. Though it shares its form with the verse monologues of Emmet Kirwan, and a similar belief in the liberation of an odyssey-like sesh, her's is an exhortation to appreciate simple things and still reach high – in one moment, moon-eyed on chemicals and breaking into a construction crane, quite literally.

The Children

Gate Theatre, Dublin. Ends March 23rd, 7.30pm (Sat mat 2.30pm) gatetheatre.ie

There are good reasons to be alarmed in The Children, a play that begins with a nosebleed and ends with a matter of life and death. In a coastal town, reeling from a nuclear disaster, three retired scientists are reunited unexpectedly. That Rose’s visit stirs tensions in the home of Hazel and Robin is fabulously apparent – sometimes in just miniscule gestures – sifting up past romantic secrets, addressing the new contaminations of the present, and raising grim possibilities for the future.

"We built a nuclear reactor next to the sea," says Rose. "We left them with a shit-show waiting to happen." As with her staging of Tribes, in 2017, director Oonagh Murphy shifts the action of Lucy Kirkwood's brightly disarming and deeply unsettling play to a vaguely Irish context, a country with no nuclear history or ambition. That makes the play's dilemma more capaciously metaphorical, though, and still vivid: a radiation of responsibility that one generation detects for the next. Challenging without being inscrutable, the play becomes an absorbing moral puzzle, given a fine production and a rich complexity in performance from Marie Mullen, Ger Ryan and Seán McGinley. It is an experience that keeps you guessing and leaves you thinking.

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