(Clare Brennan’s article appeared in the Observer, 10/2.)


It looks at odds with itself, this set, waiting for you as you come in to the auditorium; real and not real. A cottage kitchen seems as wide as a strip field. Along its worn-papered walls stand a big old sink and a scruffy range. Water will run from taps, smoke will rise from the oven, but above the back wall a vivid sky brightens blue or darkens with falling rain. Space is cramped yet limitless. Francis O’Connor’s design hauntingly physicalises Martin McDonagh’s text: everyday in detail, mythic in dimension.

A mother in her 70s, a daughter in her 40s: the pair live here, on a hillside by Leenane. Their only visitors are two brothers: Ray (Aaron Monaghan) is a messenger for Pato, who makes two return trips from England, where he works as a labourer (on press night, Marty Rea was roundly and deservedly applauded for his nuanced delivery of Pato’s fateful letter home to the daughter, his “beauty queen”). What begins as a naturalistic-seeming story of thwarted dreams becomes also a parable about loving and leaving (or not leaving) family, lover, native land.


Photo Clare: Brennan: The Guardian.

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