DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: it’s getting harder and harder for me – Smock Alley, Dublin

Creators: Alice Malseed and Sarah Baxter

Director: Sarah Baxter

Reviewer: Clara Mallon

it’s getting harder and harder for me tells the tale of three women (Christiane O’Mahony, Emer Casey and Adele Gribbon) struggling to survive in present day Belfast.

Belfast is the place they each call home, yet home for these women is a space steeped in displacement, a destructive scape described as unsympathetic and alienating.

The stage space within Smock Alley’s Boys School aids in reinforcing the claustrophobic and entrapping Belfast described within the piece.

From different generations and backgrounds, these women stand together on stage yet feel oceans apart. From traditional Irish mammy, to twenty-something party girl and control freak chemist, the characters fall too easily into what feels like opposing yet familiar contemporary stereotypes. Perhaps the plays attempts to expose a diverse array of female characters falls a little short in just sixty minutes. Other than their bleak existences in Belfast and their addiction to prescription drugs, these women have very little in common.

Sarah Baxter’s direction allows for some nice moments of stylisation. The cast talk and move in unison signifying ideas of togetherness, though this feels at odds with the main of the narrative as the trio don’t know each other and never actually meet. Without any relationship between characters it is difficult to make connections between what feels like lengthy monologues.

Writer Alice Malseed’s rhythmic style at times lends the piece a poetic feel. But in the main the monologue narration fails to strike the necessary balance between darkness and light. The lack of humour in tragedy allows for lulls which at points threaten to engulf the piece in hopeless grim.

This piece offers some insight into lives led on the fringes of society, exposing only a despondent glimpse of contemporary Belfast.

Runs until 14 September 2017 | Image: Sarah Gordon

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