Tuesday 26 September 2017

Drink, oppression, and church cast long shadow on Irish soul

At the moment, the country ranks fourth globally in young male suicide rates. Picture posed
At the moment, the country ranks fourth globally in young male suicide rates. Picture posed

Clara Rose Thornton

I recently attended a play called 'Dig' from Co Leitrim playwright, actor and director Seamus O'Rourke. The set consisted of a mossy patch of cemetery soil.

A hastening dusk framed a stretch of grass that meandered to the theatre door, surrounded by stone walls – moody boulders with a look of the ancient unmoved, as weathered as the gravestones – enclosing four male characters, a whiskey bottle, a few empty beer cans and shovels.

Once I acclimated to the unfamiliar country accents at breakneck speed, and the occasionally neon comic dialogue, I had an unsettling realisation. I realised that what I was witnessing was a keyhole deftly carved into the Irish soul, in this instance, squarely male, personifying an unfinished grave as the place where problems and emotion remain static and underground. The play's themes of suicide and rural malaise are punctuated by the final dialogue from the ghost of Smokey McCormack, man-about-town for whom the grave is being dug: "It takes a long time to learn how to fly. Fly away, away, away, away."

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