Entertainment Theatre & Arts

Friday 23 August 2019

An odd burglar calls, and a copper too

In the Window

Viking Theatre, Clontarf, Dublin

Nuala McKeever is author/actor of In The Window at the Viking Theatre in Clontarf
Nuala McKeever is author/actor of In The Window at the Viking Theatre in Clontarf

Emer O'Kelly

There's absolutely nothing wrong with "a grand evening out". And that's what Nuala McKeever delivers with In the Window at the Viking Theatre in Clontarf. It's a one-woman show, and starts unpromisingly with the author/actor setting out to tell her story direct to the audience. That might be seen as an indicator that what is to follow will be, at best, pub cabaret directed at community club audiences, rather than theatre audiences.

But McKeever slowly detaches herself, retreating into the text far enough to make this a piece of theatre as she gives us Margaret, single (married once, very briefly and disastrously), aged 49, five feet three, 12 stone, living alone in the family home after the death of her parents. It's not much of a life, Margaret says in heartfelt, if at times, cheerful tones. (This is fantasy, not real life, and ignores the fact that many a woman or indeed man, would be profoundly grateful for such an existence.)

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But the lack of the better life she feels she deserves leads to Margaret cuddling a large bowl of pink pills and an even larger (nearly empty) bottle of pink booze. Margaret has decided to close the door on her life. After all, nobody will care, she reasons.

It takes the unexpected arrival of a 17-year-old pedantically mature would-be burglar toting a gun (except it's a banana) to begin the wake-up call. He's the grandson of her parents' former gardener, and he's been breaking in at regular intervals in her absence... to listen to Frank Sinatra records on an old hi-fi. Not your usual 17-year-old, so.

Cue all kinds of confusion along the lines of Whitehall farce, with the orphan lad being passed off to a calling police officer as her lover/lodger. Except the gorgeous police officer Mac is newly single, six feet two, about to be homeless, and is open to romance. Ludicrous twists and turns in the plot ensue; and of course there's a happy ending, but not until there's been a tragic twist... apparently. For all of 10 seconds the audience is led to believe that God never opens one door without closing another (or as Margaret says at one stage "if God exists, he's made a right bloody balls of everything".)

It's got a lot of charm and plenty of gentle humour. (A programme quotation from a Northern Ireland run of the play refers to "razor-sharp one-liners", but McKeever's razor would need a lot of sharpening to deliver an even halfway close shave.)

And while its rapturous reception from a mostly older audience might seem rather over the top, In the Window delivered the goods, and would be even better if director Andrea Montgomery slowed down the hysteria by at least 50pc.

*******

The main stages in the capital are in summer hibernation, with the Gate reviving Roddy Doyle's heart-warming and period-perfect stage adaptation of his novel/film of The Snapper.

The Abbey has revived artistic director Graham McLaren's touring production of Deirdre Kinahan's The Unmanageable Sisters which purports to take its line from Greek tragedy, but is actually a peculiarly dated piece set in Ballymun flats in the 1970s, themed on Green Shield stamps and the havoc they wreak among neighbours.

It was commissioned by the then newly-appointed artistic directorship at the Abbey in response to the Waking the Feminists movement and its main advantage in that line is a large, totally female cast.

So theatrical action for two weeks from July 15 will centre on Galway Arts Festival, with Brian Irvine and Netia Jones's new opera Least Like the Other by Irish National Opera. It examines the tragic story of Rosemary Kennedy, the "hidden" sister of the Kennedy family, locked up in an institution by her monstrous parents lest she shame their shining image after a failed lobotomy directed by her father left her a sad, incontinent wreck.

Druid will stage Epiphany, a new play by Brian Watkins, which will be directed by Garry Hynes, and it will be accompanied by an exhibition by Brian Bourke of backstage rehearsal sketches.

Corcadorca will revive its chillingly stimulating production of Enda Walsh's The Same, which features sister actors Eileen and Catherine Walsh, directed by Pat Kiernan. And the casting is no gimmick: the women are both spectacularly impressive actors, and in this case, work seamlessly together.

Galway's own Moonfish Theatre will present its own devising of an adaptation of Joseph O'Connor's novel Redemption Falls, while Decadent's Andrew Flynn will direct a new production of Eugene O'Brien's first play (from 2001), Eden, about a marriage in its dying throes.

And those are only highlights in what can now reliably be expected to produce an exciting multi-arts feast.

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