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EVA SHINES WITH SAOIRSE'S STORY

It's not Saoirse's fault she looks so much like her late mother. Maybe that's the reason her old man doesn't pay attention. It's 1987 and in a "peach-coloured" bungalow in Limerick, it's just Saoirse, her da and her brother, Brendan.

If Saoirse isn't wrapped up in her magical world of fabrics (she loves to sew), she's playfully chasing Brendan around the house, or running through fields with her best mate, Siobhan (a bad influence, say teachers).

Even as a teenager, Saoirse doesn't want to grow up. Actually, it has nothing to do with 'wanting' anything.

So many characters, so much to take in - and we've only got 60 minutes. Writer and actress Eva O'Connor plays them all, mastering both the shy, twitchy, sweater-pulling Saoirse and the obnoxious, self-obsessed, loud-mouth teen, Siobhan. A dextrous performer, she barely even breaks a sweat, serving up snappy, naturalistic dialogue and effortless narration throughout.

What we have here is a touching and, occasionally, heart-breaking coming-of-age yarn that, though predictable in its outcome, is all the better for keeping things simple and real. Saoirse could be anyone.

Her story, in fact, is one that thousands could relate to.

In short, teenage Saoirse falls pregnant after a night out drinking with Siobhan and "the boys" in Wilson's pub. Afterwards, Siobhan convinces her to take a trip to the UK.

RESTRAINED

Saoirse doesn't seem to have a voice - at least, not one that people can hear (hence, the title). O'Connor's storytelling is to be commended, if not for its restrained poignancy and charm, then for the way My Name is Saoirse plays out (flashback to Wilson's, childhood memory; flashback, childhood and so on - eventually they converge). These kinds of narrative structures often crash and burn - not O'Connor's.

David Doyle's sparse set (lampshades, cardboard boxes, suitcases and a sewing station) proves effective, but we'd have listened with interest, even if O'Connor had recited her script on an empty stage.

There's a lot of humour in there (it's needed), and Siobhan, in particular, is an inspired creation.

But things get deep. Saoirse is confused about her sexuality. She has nobody to talk to. She wishes she could just go play in the fields again.

This is merely a snapshot of adolescence, delivered by a gifted wordsmith and skilful storyteller. Saoirse will stay with you, but Eva O'Connor is the name to remember.

Ends tonight. HHHHI


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