Writer: Shay Linehan
Director: Terry Byrne
Reviewer: Clara Mallon
My Name is Alice Devine tells a tale of a struggle which contemporary Irish audiences are all too familiar with. Hilda Fay, playing character Alice Devine, takes us through the highs and lows of one woman’s battle for survival in Irelands most recent economic recession. Depression, suicide, emigration and repossession are hardships Devine strives to overcome throughout her personal narrative.
Alice opens the show in a casual conversational manner, talking directly to audience members about her comic observations while grocery shopping. Within the intimate Bewley’s Café setting, the informal style of storytelling encourages a relaxed atmosphere.
As we settle into the wit of the piece, the narrative rapidly takes a dark turn. Throughout the production Devine’s story uncomfortably shifts between moments of comic playfulness and dark tearful scenes. Unfortunately the uneasy pacing creates a disjunction between the pieces balance of comic and tragic elements, ultimately puncturing the emotions of some of the more climatic moments.
However, beneath a somewhat weak portrayal of suffering and satire is a fundamental offering of hope. Most strikingly reflected in a scene of protest outside a bank, Alice finds light in the darkness. She overcomes losing her husband to suicide and her children to emigration. Through bravery and protest our protagonist finds a voice and proves that individuals can survive the throws of economic turmoil.
While this production tells a tale of great relevancy to modern audiences, the lack of emotional connection within the main narrative weakens the piece significantly. The disjointed timing leads to the production feeling at times long winded. For a piece with admirably high ambitions, its moments of coherence are all too fleeting. Perhaps with a little more focus of narration and directorial clarity, the tale of Alice Devine could be one of great insight for future audiences. But for this lunchtime performance, it is one which fall’s a little short of the mark.
Photo by Anthony Woods. Runs until October 11th.