Directors: Kate Murray and Maria Tivnan
Writer: Maria Tivnan
Reviewer: Tricia O’Beirne
“Holy Mary mother of god; Mary, shut the gate; Mary, take the fag out of your mouth”, these are some of the refrains with which the three Marys begin and finish their one act play. The performance features chanting, singing and movement interspersed with commentary and interaction between the women, in what proves to be an entertaining but rather fragmented work by Galway-based Fregoli Theatre Company. The women tell their stories directly to the audience in a stylised choreographed fashion, using synchronised movement and breaking into song occasionally. Themes of domesticity and drudgery are asserted from the start, with the Marys introducing themselves as they remove the washing from the clothes line strung across the stage and rhythmically fold towels. It takes a while for the stories they tell to overlap and therefore it is initially difficult to know how they, and the husbands and sisters mentioned but not present, all relate to each other but that is typical of meeting with extended generations of any family for the first time.
Chronologically the play seems set in an Ireland both past and present as it comments on the changing mores regarding women’s sexuality and roles in society and the home. One of the funniest moments in the play occurs on the train back from a shopping trip to Dublin when Mary Bernie drops Mary Ellen’s new Denby china cup and promptly freezes in terror while anticipating Mary Ellen’s angry response. It is also one of the all too few times the women interact directly with each other, allowing the inter-relationship between the three come to the fore. Given such well-drawn and sharply realised characters it seems a shame to put them on a stage together and not have them connect and spark off each other more than they do. In the narration of their individual relationships with the inadequate men in their lives, the link between the three women seems lost; the stories remain atomised and fragmented, lacking a central arc to draw them all together. However, Tracy Bruen, Eimear Kilmartin and Eilish McCarthy bring the three Marys vividly and believably to life, and provide an enjoyable performance which stages three warmly-realised women.
Runs until 4 May 2016 | Image: courtesy of Galway Theatre Festival