Monday 22 July 2019

Fingal play confronts taboo

'The Words are There’ by Ronan Dempsey is coming to the Millbank Theatre
'The Words are There’ by Ronan Dempsey is coming to the Millbank Theatre

Ken Phelan

A rising actor and playwright from Fingal has written a play which delves into a subject largely taboo in Irish society, and, through unveiling the darker side of personal relationships, hopes to raise public awareness of what is often a difficult and misunderstood issue.

'The Words Are There', written by Ronan Dempsey from St Margaret's, exposes the reality of male domestic abuse, exploring the cycle of abuse and how men often suffer in silence.

In the run-up to a showing in the Millbank Theatre in Rush on July 12, Ronan explains what the play is all about, and how domestic abuse against men has been ignored or overlooked in Ireland, in his view: 'The play is a linear development of a relationship, you'll basically see their first encounter, behind a nightclub in Drogheda, where the girl's basically been assaulted by her boyfriend, and this guy, this quite tame guy comes along and walks her home.

'It develops from there, and there's a lovely twenty minutes of this guy reliving those moments on stage on his own, but it starts to turn, and there's a particular moment where we can see it starting to shift, in and around the year mark, where she basically begins to lash out.

'There's subtle changes in the relationship that culminate in this huge moment where he's being subjected to screaming and all sorts of abuse, and her basically slagging his mother and stuff like that.

'The climax ends in a tragic accident, and although the audience thinks it's the end, he goes back to the start and has to go through the whole thing again, so it's a whole recurring cycle.'

Ronan explains the idea for the play came from a male friend of his, who himself had been in an abusive relationship.

It had, he says, been 'a total shock' to him, as he and his friends had no idea it was happening. This led to his 'fascination' with the subject, and in particular how men don't communicate or express their emotions.

The issue of male domestic abuse is largely overlooked, he feels - in society and the media, as he explains: 'The vast amount of what I hear on radio and on TV in the UK and Ireland is the reference to women in domestic abuse situations. I rarely hear the word 'person', like a 'person' in a domestic abuse situation, a 'person' who's a victim of domestic abuse.

'There's an incredible bias within the media and in government that excludes men.

'I think it's getting better, especially with the existence of Amen in Navan, because they deal specifically with men and male victims. I think the play uncovers how the subtleties of a toxic relationship develops, and I think it's incredibly educational.'

Ronan, who runs his own production company, Nth Degree Productions, trained in the Gaeity School of Acting and L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

As well as touring his play in Ireland, 'The Words Are There' appears in The Edinburgh Festival later this year, where, if current reviews are anything to go on, it will doubtless meet with much acclaim.

Fingal Independent