Conviction – St Kevin’s Park, Dublin

Reviewer: Elizabeth O'Gorman

Writer: Eva O’Connor

Director: Hildegarde Ryan

Discovering St Kevin’s park just off Camden Street is one of the joys of attending Eva O’Connor’s contribution to the Dublin Fringe Festival

This adaptation of O’Connor’s literary essay provides a pleasant philosophical meander in the deconsecrated graveyard of St Kevin’s Park. It’s a short audio work which reflects on the impact of the recent covid restrictions on the playwright. Being deprived of an audience highlighted for the author how her sense of self was closely linked to her work. The return of her sister from NYC to continue her ‘noble’ job as a counsellor back home in Ireland was an opportunity to renew their relationship albeit a different one to that was initially envisaged. The renegotiation entailed in the move from a childhood to an adulthood relationship with a sibling is explored and the parallel threads of the author’s relationship with food and the way of life she has lost are interwoven in the text.

The sister’s daily morning walk and talk in St Kevin’s Park during covid times became a lifeline for the author. It gave a structure to her day and eventually prompted the conviction that the ‘loose ends’, arising from the disconnection she felt without her work, could be knitted into a whole again. The soundtrack by Nathan Coen which accompanies the piece is a delight but perhaps unnecessary as the carefully crafted words are wonderfully lyrical and phrases such as ‘flounders seal-like in my stomach’ echo in the memory long after the audio experience has finished.

‘Conviction’ is an unusual theatrical event. The venue is outdoors, there is no stage, no set and the only actor is a voice in your head. You bring your own headphones and your own listening device and sit on your own on a bench against the wall of a small ruined church or walk around on your own among the gravestones. The absence of the group context, normally associated with attending a play, and the absence of a theatre highlights the solitariness of the lockdown experience for a playwright.

At the end of the audio experience, listeners are invited to share their reactions and comments by writing them on the cards provided, then placing them in one of the two large coffee cups hanging from a tree. This serves to gently bring the attendees back from the internal world of the playwright and into the wider community.

This audio work is the perfect lunchtime break. While listening you can sit and chomp on a sandwich or get your steps in doing circuits of this peaceful oasis in the heart of Dublin.

Runs until 24 September 2022.

A solitary slice of life

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The Ireland team is currently under the editorship of Laura Marriott. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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