Truth, Love or Promise – Bewley’s Café Theatre, Dublin

Reviewer: Emma Devlin

Writer: Nuala McKeever

Director: Dan Gordon

On the surface Truth, Love or Promise is a sweet story about three women who develop an unlikely friendship at a creative writing class in Belfast, but there’s a surprising amount of depth in this short one woman show. Exploring themes of bereavement, miscarriage, sexuality, and Northern Irish identity it packs a lot in. While that could easily prove an overload in only an hour and five minutes, it doesn’t feel like that at all; perhaps thanks to the infectious good nature of the leading lady and writer of the play – Nuala McKeever.

Playing all three main characters, as well as a short stint as a pompous property owner also attending the class, McKeever is a powerhouse. It’s a wonder she is able to catch a breath as she cycles between Brenda, Maureen, and Joanna, tearing through the dialogue at the breakneck pace that one would expect from these types of conversations – only slowed down by the careful annunciation of English Joanna and the jaunty music that marks the scene breaks. McKeever is very pleasing to watch, there’s something very natural and very likeable about her performance; a one person show can be a little tough sometimes but there is nothing trying here, with McKeever fitting as the perfect actor for each character equally well.

The writing is smart and funny, there are plenty of laugh out loud moments to enjoy as Maureen makes another tongue in cheek comment, or Joanna obliviously remarks on the welcoming energy of the ladies loos, or Brenda makes an aside to the audience about one of the other two. But it’s not just a light-hearted comedy, this is offset very well with the deeper subjects that McKeever is keen to delve into. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this play is McKeever’s gentle probing of Northern Irish identity and how that seems to run parallel to the themes of dealing with grief and loss, and the transformative power of letting go of the role you’ve been playing and becoming whoever it is that you want to be.

Brenda’s voyage through her grief provides a safe space for Joanna to confront hers and the connection between the three women unfolds the discovery of something that connected two of them long before they ever met, it’s a smart and thoughtful story that draws to a satisfyingly happy conclusion. There’s only week left to catch this show at Bewley’s Café Theatre and it would be a crying shame to miss McKeever playing a blinder – catch it while you can.

Runs Until 18th May 2024.

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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.

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  1. Nuala,
    Wow what an amazing performance!
    My sister&I had the great pleasure of experiencing your splendid,talented,insightful&emotional play last Wednesday.

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