Friday 20 September 2019

This Beautiful Village, Abbey Theatre, Dublin: The writing on the wall in suburbia

Hilarious: The cast of This Beautiful Village, currently at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. Picture by Pat Redmond
Hilarious: The cast of This Beautiful Village, currently at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. Picture by Pat Redmond

Katy Hayes

Playwright Lisa Tierney-Keogh makes her Abbey debut with this smart work that wades into the gender wars with wit and gusto.

The setting is the Dublin suburb of Stillorgan. Liz and her wife have moved there to "try to be normal". Someone has sprayed sexist graffiti using Liz's wife's name on a nearby wall.

It's not clear if the graffiti refers to Jessica or not, but the words are upsetting in any case. Liz calls together the members of the residents association to discuss the problem. The play unfolds in real time over 90 minutes.

Like in the plays of Yasmina Reza, this civilised group soon loses its veneer, and they all turn savage. The women really stick it to the men. Some well-aimed feminist punches are thrown, and some physical punches hit their targets, too.

David Horan directs with his funny bone to the fore; designer Ciaran Bagnall delights with his abstract shapes of suburbia. A terrific script swerves skilfully from hilarious material about lasagne to serious stuff about racism. One Brexit-related line is so topical, it may need to be updated daily.

The cast of six are outstanding, with Michael Ford-FitzGerald and Pom Boyd to the fore. A terrific new play, utterly clued in to the zeitgeist, looking very much at home on the main stage of the National Theatre.

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