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DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: Efficacy 84 – Smock Alley, Dublin

Director: Luke Casserly

Reviewer: Ciara L. Murphy

According to the programme note for Efficacy 84: “The Kerry Babies case is a story that cannot be told.” This is unfortunately the case for this production although perhaps this statement to the audience was intended to inspire more positive and abstract considerations.

The young cast (consisting of Rua Barron, Alexandra Conlon, Simon Geaney, Síofra Ní Mheara, and Maia Purdue) deliver a purposely wooden rendition of this story on a minimalist stage complete with piano accompaniment. It doesn’t work.

The piece, deliberately ironic, tries too hard and relies unwisely on staid stereotypes of womanhood to illustrate its own perceived cleverness. The phrase “can I iron for you?” delivered by Ní Mheara who is playing Joanne Hayes is simultaneously infuriating and boring. Even as an ironic statement it jars with the audience, undermining the occasional moments of the piece where the ensemble hit on something interesting.

One such moment, is the instance where one of the performers recites the reams of personal questions Hayes was subjected to about her menstrual cycle and sexual history by the Gardaí investigating the deaths. This is one of the only moments of Efficacy 84 where this reviewer feels invested in the story and feels as if this performance has something worthy to say.

The second half of this piece veers clumsily into the genre of the ‘dramatically self-aware’. The final moments of the play are perhaps aimed to illustrate that stories like this are not easily represented or concluded. This is the case here and in theory the ensemble must be admired for illustrating this. However, in practice this felt like a cop-out by director Luke Casserly, who despite what were surely the best of intentions, provided no answers to any of the questions he posed.

Unfortunately it seems that Efficacy 84 has fallen into its own trap. This piece was unable to push at the dramatic boundaries that were there for the taking.

Runs until 23 September 2017 | Image: Contributed

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