Notch

Danaja Wass
The Thelmas
The Vaults (crypt) Leake Street
to

Notch

Its just possible, that Notch might make an intriguing, sometimes moving puzzle of a short story. The reader could pause, reflect, chat with friends about it and eventually work out its meaning.

However, as drama, it gallops ahead of its audience at such a pace, with such a multitude of events, places, incidents and dreams alongside the distracting images appearing simultaneously on a television, that I worried that many of those seeing the show would be wandering the streets afterwards for hours in a stupefied daze.

In fifty minutes, it gives us homelessness, immigration problems, sexual assaults, poetry, mental illness, sudden shifts in time and millions of other things I can't recall. All of it is spoken by Danaja Wass as the character AA, who has migrated from Croatia to a turbulent, marginal existence in Dublin. AA also occasionally replicates the voices of Irish people and a drunken English man trying to rape her.

Even the few things that stand out can still leave you pondering questions that cause you to miss the tumble of story that follows. There is, for instance, the matter of the taser in the shape of a pink dildo that AA sleeps with in the mixed hostel. It interrupts the man attempting to rape her when he uses it to electrify his nipples. I wondered why he would do that when perhaps the writer ought to have focused our attention on the assault. I later asked someone if Ireland sold tasers in the shape of dildos as some weird risky sado-masochism, but was told AA had brought it in from Croatia. That had me thinking airport security had become a lot laxer than when I last flew. (They confiscated my very dangerous looking bottle of water.)

You might miss the other sexual assault when AA attempts to rape a sleeping woman, because she tells it as a story of unrequited love. Again, shouldn't the writer have instead wanted us to be appalled at the rape?

But at least I followed that bit. Other bits, such as the dream of the carrot emerging from her chest and the television showing video of her pulling faces, still puzzle me.

It’s not that the writing isn't at times brilliant, poetic and probably attempting to say something serious about mental illness, racism, suicide, homelessness and sexual violence. It’s just unable to take the audience with it. Indeed at times I felt the writer was trying too hard to impress with every paragraph, irrespective of whether the paragraph connected in any way with the preceding paragraph or the one that followed.

The writing needs to be workshopped with assertive people who will speak truthfully about its weaknesses and help point to a more coherent structure. And, who knows, that might cut out enough to make another four plays.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna