Writer: Brian Foster
Reviewer: Anna Ambelez
A compelling piece of work from the start. Myra (Fionna Hewitt-Twamley) is begging for the price of her next “bottle of medicine”,as without it she is “open to attack from the ould memories of the person yeh once were”. Warned by her alcoholic father of being taken by “The Beast” the curse of the Hennessys, the drink to which she has succumbed.
Myra, recounts her life from childhood to her 48th birthday, acting out all the characters from her mature dogmatic father, her young hesitant stuttering boyfriend, neighbours, Tina the Trip, Big Bridie, Tommy the Tadpole and others. Hewitt-Twamley moves from peaks of ecstatic euphoria to the depths of depression, from intense frustrated anger to pitiful anguish with consummate ease, having you laugh out loud one moment and filling your eyes with sad tears the next, an absolute tour de force.
“The sound of desolation is the loneliest sound in the world, cos only you can hear it”, and her desolation fills the theatre. Centre stage is her bare park bench, under an enormous crystal chandelier, a stark image of the gulf between the rich and the poor.
The playwright Brian Foster from a tough background, left school at 16 and started writing at 39. The original multi-award winning play Maire A Woman of Derry, has been developed using 80% of the original script and 20% new material. It echoes experiences of some of the Derry street drinkers Foster knew and the truth shines through.
During Foster’s research a Doctor said “heavy street drinkers are terminally ill”, yet we do not give them “the same compassion as cancer sufferers”. Myra says:” I’m an alcoholic not a leper”, but this play covers more than alcoholism and homelessness; family life’s traumas, ,young love, bereavement, poverty, cot death, loneliness, current crisis in Ireland, while written nearly 20 years ago the subjects covered are just as pertinent today.
The 90 minutes flies, ending with a well deserved standing ovation from a packed house.
Runs until: Sunday 25 August 2019 | Image: Contributed