Sunday 20 October 2019

Spotless at Smock Alley Theatre: A tale of two women in the inner city


Katy Hayes

Gary Duggan's new play for Rise Productions and Then This Theatre tells a story of two women whose paths intersect in inner-city Dublin.

Jen (Emma Willis) is an ambitious 18-year-old from 'the flats' with a part-time job in the Spar. Her sights are set on escape via a good Leaving Cert and an accountancy course.

Genevieve (Ciara O'Callaghan), a court clerk, is a middle-class blow-in to the area. She is desperate to get pregnant, but at 43, and after several IVF cycles, it looks like time is running out. Her husband buys her a cat.

The figure that links the two women is a local 20-year-old, Dean, Jen's first boyfriend. He rescues Genevieve from muggers one day and this event creates a developing, erotic bond. Aoife Spillane-Hinks stylishly directs this meaty two-hander; designer Naomi Faughnan reflects the characters with two strong, visual spaces; a layer of atmospheric polish is added by Denis Clohessy's subtle but significant sounds.

O'Callaghan plays the older woman with persuasive, steely focus. Willis is hugely impressive in her nuanced performance of the plucky Leaving Cert student. The final scene is too heavy on explication, but it doesn't detract from a highly enjoyable night.

Spotless Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin April 22 - 27, followed by Sligo, (May 1), Galway (May 2) and Cork (May 7 - 9)

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