In Heat – The New Theatre, Dublin

Reviewer: Louise Tallon

Writer: Sadhbh Malin

Director: Bellaray Bertrand-Webb

Every seat is taken for Philomena Production’s ‘In Heat’ at Temple Bar’s ‘The New Theatre’ this evening. This is a strong debut for writer/actor, Sadhbh Malin and creative producer, Sinead Gallagher.

The play unfolds in a bedroom of the flat 29 year old junior doctor, Conor, played by Aidan Moriarty, shares with housemate ‘Tony’. He and Jessica Dunne Perkins as his ex-girlfriend, Helen, have returned there after having met for coffee. She has momentous news to share and is nervous as to how it will be received (“Promise you’ll go easy on me!”).

Conor, as Helen anticipates, is shocked and his response is belligerence. This sets the tone for the see-sawing nature of relations between the pair. At times Conor’s behaviour is luring and he persuades Helen to move back in with him. Increasingly, however, his attitude and conduct become more critical and controlling. Helen, presently unemployed and anxious for the safe advancement of their ‘rainbow’ pregnancy, is induced by Conor to confine herself to the bedroom for the duration, out of harm’s way.

Malin’s characters are well devised and written. They are multifaceted. We sympathise deeply with Helen and worry for her mental health as the “manky”, mouldy walls of the claustrophobic room close in on her. But there is also a measure of compassion for her abuser. Conor is alone in the world. He is grieving the recent death of his Mother and battling a gnawing guilt in the aftermath of the miscarriage of their first child. He mourns the baby he never wanted initially but for a moment in her passing “felt like a Father”. Conor knows he is “tricky”.

‘In Heat’ is a study into ‘gaslighting’ and coercive control, among other serious themes. At times the intensity can be jarring and some moments are disturbing but levity, well structured rising action and a 55 minute running time ensure that, while the audience is discomfited, we remain engaged and not dejected.

A scene depicting sexual aggression is well managed, composed and executed and it is a testament to the company that information on what constitutes an unhealthy relationship as opposed to a healthy one, along with contact details for relevant helplines, is handed out as we enter the theatre.

The Lir Academy will be proud of its graduates tonight. Along with Malin, Moriarty and Dunne Perkins, a large number of the play’s excellent production team are alumni. Dublin’s Fringe Theatre Festival 2023 has pretty much taken over the city for 16 days and 16 nights this September and ‘In Heat’ has most definitely been one of its high points.

Runs until 16th September 2023.

The Review's Hub Score

Gripping and affecting

Show More
Photo of The Reviews Hub - Ireland

The Reviews Hub - Ireland

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.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
The Reviews Hub