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Crocodile Fever

Meghan Tyler
Traverse Theatre Company in association with Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Traverse Theatre

Crocodile Fever Credit: Lara Cappelli

Megan Tyler is playwright in residence at Traverse and this production is backed by a huge and experienced team of talented individuals. So why did I come out of the show feeling like I’d been to see a panto written by an angry five-year-old?

The premise seemed a good one: set in Northern Ireland in the '80s, two sisters meet again some years later after being separated by tragic circumstances. Fianna (Lisa Dwyer Hogg) is the spirited one and has just come out of prison; Alannah (Lucianne McEvoy) is the pious one and has been keeping a very neat and ordered house for her tyrannical father, ‘Da’ Peter (Sean Kearns), who was paralysed by being pushed down the stairs by the paramilitaries.

Fianna is confrontational, explosive, up for fight. Alannah just wants her to leave so she can go back to her quite life. The sisters spar a little then decide to have a drink. Fianna tries to upset her sister’s equilibrium.

But then something happens and all hell breaks loose: Da appears and the girls who have been steadily getting drunk decide to stab him and then chop off his legs and cook them.

The play gets darker, messier and more bizarre as the father watches them prepare a stew of his own flesh and both girls get more and more abusive and hysterical.

Then the Paras arrive to search the house, so the girls hide the now unconscious Da under the stairs but, while the soldiers search, for some reason he turns into a pantomime crocodile which fills the house.

I’m sure it’s all very clever and meaningful and has things to say about working together and facing things as a team, but I just found it all completely bizarre.

What started off as a really insightful look at the relationship of two sisters on opposite sides of the spectrum both as characters and with opposing religious convictions, and who were both trying to deal with childhood trauma, degenerated into a bloody and laughable farce.

A wasted opportunity to explore ‘the troubles’ in a more meaningful and relevant way.

Reviewer: Suzanne Hawkes