Winning isn’t everything

Rise Productions’ update of the Tír na nÓg myth is a mixed bag


The Games People Play

New Theatre


Gavin Kostick’s play for Rise Productions takes its cue from Irish mythology, specifically the legend of Tír na nÓg, but the fading tradition it really evokes is that of character-driven, socially aware urban drama. On the eve of their son’s seventh birthday, suburban Dublin couple Oisin (Aonghus Óg McAnally) and Niamh (Lorna Quinn) gradually realise they have hard choices to make over their dire financial situation. Their options ranging from enforced homemaking to spousal emigration; they compete in games from their son’s gift to make their decision, along the way highlighting the faultlines in their personal lives and beyond.

Sincere in intent and acted with conviction, the story unfolds efficiently if conventionally, but its narrative frameworks have a leaden effect. The image of the Celtic Tiger as an illusory paradise is earnest yet superfluous, and while the ludic plotline allows space for themes of cheating, it also has a contrived feel: a creditable draw rather than the hoped-for triumph.

Ends Sept 21