All hail The Harvest: a 'well-made play'
Jane McCarthy's fresh drama was worth the wait
It's more than five years since Jane McCarthy's Overtime was staged at the New Theatre in Dublin. Now she's back with The Harvest, and the return is long overdue.
Was Overtime a flash in the pan? It most certainly was not: The Harvest is as thoughtful, modern, well-constructed and psychologically credible as its predecessor. It's a "well-made play" that's a corker in an age of pretension where schlock is often used to disguise a dearth of imagination and stagecraft.
Malcolm is happily married, if a trifle stressed out: he's trying to be a good stepfather to teenage Evan, and that's never an easy role. In this case, his wife Charlotte is even more stressed: the baby they had together was handicapped and died, and she took to pills and booze to deaden the pain. Now she's clean, and in therapy, but the shadow of the past is a long one; nor is she helped by her anxious husband's controlling nature.
Malcolm too has a past, a secret one: in the person of Shane, the ex-con/heroin addict who is also in Charlotte's therapy group and with whom she strikes up a friendship. No: there isn't an affair; McCarthy is too good a writer to be so predictable. But there is more to the 'accidental' meeting than meets the eye, and Malcolm must harvest the dreadful seeds of his past. To say more would be to destroy a terrific piece of construction, and the play is a piece of deliberately unresolved tragedy: the world always lies in wait for us.
It's an in-house production directed with precision and controlled force by Matthew Ralli, with nuanced, layered performances from Melissa Nolan as Charlotte, Fionn Foley as Evan and John Morton as Shane. But good though they are, they are outshone by an almost mesmeric level of subtlety from Marcus Lamb as Malcolm.
The Harvest is effectively designed by Lisa Krugel, but John Crudden's lighting challenges, including a pivotal scene played inexplicably in near total darkness.