Civic Theatre, Tallaght, Dublin
DEIRDRE Kinahan's 'Moment' returns for an Irish tour on the back of rave reviews in London.
It is a brave play -- a bid by the playwright to imagine and understand a family situation to rank among one's worst nightmares.
The play consists of three parallel stories. Most simply, it is the story of an average Irish family gathered for a meal.
Mammy frets, sisters snipe and tensions rise.
It is also the story of how that family responds to an outsider. But somewhat awkwardly, there are two outsiders: two of the siblings have brought home partners.
Natalie Radmall-Quirke, as the new, English, daughter-in-law, meeting the family for the first time, functions as a catalyst for the revelation of the family's dysfunction.
She plays the culture clash well, but is bedevilled by the fact that her character never becomes more than a catalyst. Will O'Connell, as boyfriend to one of the sisters (played with a lovely, light touch), is similarly hamstrung by his structural role in the play.
Most strikingly, Kinahan's play is the story of a prodigal son. In this version, though, the son (Ronan Leahy) has not been away out of choice, but has been serving a significant prison sentence.
Kinahan traces the moral and emotional implications of this well, but is less sure-footed when tackling the actual detail of his crime.
These three stories don't always cohere. But in Maeve Fitzgerald, Kinahan has an actor capable of taking the play wherever she wants it: quirky, unpredictable, quietly captivating.
Thanks in no small part to her, 'Moment' is consistently gripping and occasionally explosive.