Thursday 30 March 2017

'Don't miss it' - The Remains of Maisie Duggan at the Peacock Theatre

Review - The Remains of Maisy Duggan, Peacock Theatre, Dublin

Caption: Brid Ni Neachtain as Maisie in The Remains of Maisie Duggan in Peacock Theatre as part of Dublin Theatre Festival. Photograph by Ros Kavanagh.
Caption: Brid Ni Neachtain as Maisie in The Remains of Maisie Duggan in Peacock Theatre as part of Dublin Theatre Festival. Photograph by Ros Kavanagh.

Katy Hayes

Kathleen comes home from London to be greeted by her ‘simple’ brother who is engrossed in making toast.

Her mother is in the throes of a psychiatric delusion that she is dead following a car accident. Her father is an aggressive brute. The scene is an ill-kept kitchen in a Cork farmhouse. There is a cat, both dead and alive. There is a stove upon which a parent gets deliberately burnt. There is an attack on someone with a shovel.

If these dramatic elements sound familiar, it is because they are. Carmel Winters’s new play is like a repository of all the elements of a hundred years of Irish drama – a clever addition to the Waking the Nation centenary programme. There are loud echoes of J.M. Synge, but finally it is most like a Martin McDonagh play, with the cuddly bits taken out. Winters has a fiercely aggressive voice. Brilliantly written, with smart and witty lines, the scenes unfold with building calamity.

Creating a violent female character is a tricky business. Rachel O’Byrne as Kathleen does a terrific job, with her deeply felt bubbling aggression born out of a poisoned family background. John Olohan as the stomping brutish father reminds us of what a great actor he is.

Director Ellen McDougall wisely doesn’t soften the piece but instead ramps up the rebarbative qualities with an ugly set by Fly Davis and scene change lighting by Sarah Jane Sheils that is an assault on the eyes. A brilliant, bracing piece. Don’t miss it.

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