DramaDublin Theatre FestivalIrelandReview

DUBLIN THEATRE FESTIVAL: Rathmines Road – Peacock, Dublin

Writer: Deirdre Kinahan

Director: Jim Culleton

Reviewer: Tricia O’Beirne

Deirdre Kinahan’s play is circular in form, unlike the bricks and mortar Rathmines Road of the title which provides the setting for the violent rape of a young woman some years ago. This event resurfaces over the period of a night, potentially changing the lives of the play’s protagonists but ultimately and depressingly bringing us, the audience, right back to where we started.

Sandra, played by Karen Ardiff, was that young woman. Now older and married to Ray (Enda Oates), she is temporarily back in her deceased mother’s house, with a view to selling it, and the play takes place solely in the sitting room of this house. Linda the auctioneer, played assuredly by Janet Moran, is an old acquaintance of Sandra’s and—as becomes evident when they arrive on scene—so is her husband. Sandra has an instinctive, almost primal response to Eddie (Charlie Bonner) and the shock waves from this kinetic meeting result in trauma revisited, physical violence, lies, and self-deceit, played out more and more believably as the play progresses. Sandra’s old friend Dairne (confidently played by Rebecca Root) is also present as events unfurl and provides much-needed compassion and empathetic support for the victim/survivor protagonist, unlike the others who sadly respond only through the lens of their own suffering.

Kinahan cleverly creates a timeframe that allows for exploration of alternative outcomes from this meeting; electric shock sounds and lighting changes propel the characters forward and back through different scenarios, none of which provide agency or closure for Sandra herself. The set design, by Maree Kearns, is a curious mix of realistic furnishings and nightmarish hues on the walls which oppress and darken the stage. After a clunky, rather wooden start to the play, the emotional scenes of the denouement and climax/anticlimax make for intense and riveting theatre. The characters are flawed but never monstrous; they are all too believable and this makes the ultimate outcome all the more depressing and challenging for the audience. Kinahan‘s commitment to her protagonist’s truth is an indictment of the reality for many victims and survivors of sexual abuse and is clearly a timely engagement with this subject matter.

Runs until 27 October 2018 | Image: Patrick Redmond

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