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Moment

Deirdre Kinahan
Tall Tales Theatre
Bush Theatre
(2011)

Moment production photo

There are echoes of Martin McDonagh in this black comedy play from Deirdre Kinahan, the Artistic Director of Co. Meath's Tall Tales Theatre. The Irish seem to have no qualms when it comes to laughing about the most serious issues, usually still managing to maintain focus on the human impact of their dark tales.

In the early scenes of this two hour drama played out in the Dublin kitchen of Deirdre Donnelly's Teresa Lynch, we seem to have entered a cosy comedy about the triumvirate of Lynch women, who are so close that they both love and frustrate the hell out of each other.

Widowed Teresa, who is addicted to tranquillisers and spends much of the time barely sentient, treats her grown-up daughters like skivvies. While Ciara, a mother of two played by Kate Nic Chonaonaigh, remains constantly cheerful, Maeve Fitzgerald as older sister Niamh specialises in the kind of expression that could turn milk sour.

Up to this point, Moment is more soap than kitchen sink but the impending arrival of Nial, apparently a black sheep, a prodigal son or possibly both, promises an added dimension.

The fashionable artist's arrival with the unexpected company of the Englishwoman that he has married only the day before is the catalyst for the kind of horror story that no family could survive intact.

14 years before, Ronan Leahy's ambivalent character had murdered Hilary, a lovely, lively young friend (seen in flashback) of Niamh's portrayed by the highly talented Aela O'Flynn, who is only 12. Therefore, his return is the chance for the family to address its skeletons once and for all and perhaps begin to live more normally again. Life however, at least on stage, rarely runs that smoothly.

Given its subject matter, Moment is inevitably an uncomfortable play to watch. However, it does allow Miss Kinahan the chance to get under the skins of the Lynch women and, as he is forced to confront his demons, Nial.

While Nial's wife Ruth, played by Rebecca O'Mara, and the subsidiary male characters are amusing, they are less fully fleshed out and really only serve as observers and commentators on the family war that the play inevitably puts under the microscope.

While this should be either Niamh or Niall's play, since they are apparently the central characters, that is not necessarily the case.

Though she spends the evening walking around in a daze, the real power is the matriarch. It helps that Deirdre Donnelly gives a superb performance as a secretly manipulative woman who holds the family together and always gets her way, even when spaced out.

By the end of David Horan's gripping production, while the family might never be able to recover from an inexplicable moment that changed their lives forever, we at least have a better understanding of how it has defined and trapped them leaving escape impossible. That makes Moment a powerful and original play that deserves to prosper.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher