The Irish Mail on Sunday - - MORE THEATRE -

Nor­mal (Bew­ley’s Café Theatre, is about our at­ti­tude to autism, its so­cial and fam­ily ef­fects. And it raises the ques­tion of what ex­actly is nor­mal. That’s a lot to ask in 50-minute play, but author Caitríona Daly has pro­duced a taut, dra­matic, splen­didly acted piece, that raises many ques­tions, but that in­evitably only touches the sur­face of the prob­lems in­volved. He­len (Caoimhe O’Mal­ley) has had a two-year re­la­tion­ship with autis­tic 25-year-old Gary. She’s vis­ited by Gary’s mother Phil (Karen Ardiff) in his ab­sence. There’s a lot of un­com­fort­able talk be­fore they get down to the busi­ness of the He­len/Gary re­la­tion­ship. For He­len, it’s a lov­ing re­la­tion­ship with oc­ca­sional prob­lems; for Phil it’s been a life­time of love, worry and so­cial dif­fi­cul­ties. He­len is de­fend­ing a sit­u­a­tion that has arisen from her own per­son­al­ity prob­lems. Lack­ing the pres­ence of Gary, the play fi­nally re­solves it­self into two long speeches in which the two women sum up their lives and feel­ings. Not ideal, but it still has dra­matic power thanks to the rap­port be­tween the two per­form­ers. And it pro­duces an ex­cel­lent think-piece for Bew­ley’s re­turn to the re­fur­bished, noise-in­su­lated Grafton Street venue. Runs un­til April 28.

Power: Caoimhe O’Mal­ley in Nor­mal

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