Writer: Dick Walsh
Director: Gavin Quinn
Reviewer: David Keane
Stuck in a rural limbo Marya (Annabel Rickerby), a self-proclaimed “west Limerick handicapped girl”, has been living with her contrary father (Des Nealon) for the last 5 years. Her initial plan was to move home to “save up” but if anything she has less now than ever. A dodgy leg, as well as a lack of interest, keeps her on the dole but her prospects might be about to improve. Her friend and newly appointed housemate Katie (Una McKevitt) knows that an old school friend is in town, a successful lad who’s got a decent job in Brussels. Katie thinks that she might be able to persuade Doug (Dick Wash) to put in a good word for Marya back in Brussels. Forever in two minds, Marya must finally nail her colours to the mast.
Pan Pan Theatre present’s Newcastlewest as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival and under the direction of Gavin Quinn this simple story takes on a fresh and unusual feel. The mundane and humdrum of everyday live is portrayed in a twisted fashion, as Dick Walsh’s script moves in an oddly staccato manner, the dialogue purposely jarring against the action and emotion. Simple tasks like carrying in the shopping become art like while more serious incidents are barely given a second thought. All of this is overseen by two assistants (Gráinne Hallahan and Daphne Oikonomopoulo) who manipulate the cast’s movements at times while simply observing their banal existence at other times. The simple but startlingly bright set (Aedín Cosgrove) provides an appropriate backdrop to this intentionally awkward production. The set slowly gives more space to the characters which they fill with more acts of absurd banality.
Throughout this 70 minute piece Katie seeks guidance from external sources, looking for clues and cues as to what she should do with her life, as well as consulting her deceased mother. Rickerby portrays this sense of ambivalence very well through her nonchalance at what is happening around her. Doug, the one who has supposedly “made it” lives a life that is as equally dull and stupefying as Marya and Katie’s; his is just more socially acceptable. The characters provide plenty of laughs as they struggle to make sense of the world around them, wavering between the random and the contrived. Realism turned on its head, this entropic piece seeks to measure the disorder in the everyday world and what we lose in trying to do so. If the universe is ordered chaos, then Newcastlewest is a microcosm of that.
Runs until October 4th as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival | Image: Ros Kavanagh