Directors: Gary Keegan and Feidlim Cannon
Reviewer: Ciara L. Murphy
Have I No Mouth is not so much a tale of loss, as it a tale of moving forward. It focuses on how director and co-creator Feidlim Cannon’s family have dealt with their grief, resulting from the tragic and untimely deaths of Sean Cannon, Feidlim Cannon’s father, and his baby brother, also named Sean. Feidlim and his mother Ann, who also performs in the show, engage in an utterly engaging performance of healing and exploration. At times it feels as if we, the audience, are peering through the curtains of this family’s most private and intimate moments.
Brokentalkers are well known for their collaborative devising process which results in theatre that according to the programme note ‘defies categorisation’. Have I No Mouth was originally produced at the 2012 Dublin Theatre Festival, signalling a turning point in Irish theatre which was beginning to embrace experimental performance paradigms. The performance is interactive, with the audience participating in and engaging with the personal process of grief and healing. Five years on the company return with Have I No Mouth and the result is as fresh as it was in 2012.
Ann and Feidlim Cannon are joined onstage throughout the performance by Erich Keller, a Dublin-based psychotherapist who has consulted on the project. Although this piece is scripted, it provides its audience with the sense that the interactions they are privy to are completely organic and original, a testament to the success of Brokentalkers’ devising process.
The set is adorned with an eccentric collection of objects, but as the performance progresses the audience comes to know the significance of each object and their links to this family tale. The sound and lighting, designed by Jack Cawley and Sarah Jane Shiels respectively, combine to allow the audience and the performers to transgress linear time to engage with significant moments of the past.
The familial intimacy in the relationship between Ann and her son Feidlim provides the production with the most humorous and poignant moments of the piece. Brokentalkers excel at balancing the tension between grief and joy, creating a whirlwind emotional experience for its audience.
Have I No Mouth challenges established theatrical form, but it is an overwhelmingly accessible and enjoyable piece of theatre. Physical and unapologetic, this is a production that needs to be experienced rather than seen.
Reviewed on 25 April 2017 | Image: Ilan Bachrach