Lots of laughs but lit­tle time for re­flec­tion

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - SCENE & HEARD - MAGGIEARMSTRONG

So Sharon Rab­bitte is preg­nant, this time on the Gate stage. Roddy Doyle’s adap­ta­tion of The

Snap­per comes nearly 30 years af­ter the book was pub­lished and the story re­ally does feel as fresh as when sin­gle moth­ers were scan­dalous be­ings and late-night hook-ups with sex­ual preda­tors were your own fault.

Róisín McBrinn’s di­rec­tion is heart-warm­ing and mis­chievous if a lit­tle an­tic, as the scenes move along at a break­neck pace that doesn’t lend it­self to let­ting you think. Her ap­proach to Doyle’s com­mu­nity saga is to plant the story firmly in the Rab­bitte fam­ily house­hold with the spot­light — lit­er­ally — on Sharon and her preg­nancy.

A grey peb­ble-dash screen is pulled back to Sharon (Hazel Clif­ford) an­nounc­ing her con­di­tion to the au­di­ence. Her folks — Jimmy Snr and Veron­ica — think it’s shockin’. She should have told them she was plan­ning on get­ting preg­nant. She’s keep­ing it though: “Abor­tion is mur­der.” And she’s not tellin’ who she’s hav­ing it for.

There can’t be a sin­gle liv­ing soul who has any­thing against Stephen Frears’ 1993 film adap­ta­tion, but the re­booted (slightly abridged) drama­tis per­sonae didn’t take a mo­ment to win the crowd, who were on cue with turbo laughs at ev­ery punch­line.

Clif­ford con­veys all the in­ner panic and naïveté of Sharon, a colour­ful de­but for this Lir drama stu­dent that re­quires her to perch on a toi­let, vomit and push out a baby, while Si­mon De­laney brings a boom­ing kind of au­thor­ity to a part ev­ery­body thought only Colm Meaney could play. The Ama­zo­nian Hilda Fay is mar­vel­lous as Veron­ica (even if she is too cool for the re­lent­less sewing and knit­ting of her do­mes­tic lot) and the Rab­bitte chil­dren are a scream.

Paul Wills has cre­ated a busy, play­ful set — a patch­work of stripes, pais­ley, flo­ral, brick and teenage bed­room posters, with the pokey rooms of the Rab­bitte house clev­erly made up via ve­hi­cles moved around by the cast. This merry col­lage be­comes a lit­tle over­bear­ing, and leav­ing the Rab­bitte house, it is hard to go else­where imag­i­na­tively (pub, su­per­mar­ket, hos­pi­tal). But hey, there are enough perms, leg­gings, high waists, Chris de Burgh, ska and synth to keep you im­mersed in the 1980s for two-and-ahalf hours.

This is a night of com­edy and disco, a show that makes you laugh but not reflect. The events that led to Sharon be­com­ing preg­nant are shaded over. In the book there is lit­tle doubt that she has been raped. In the play, Sharon’s scenes with Ge­orgie Burgess leave the im­pres­sion of a fool­ish late-night fum­ble, as Si­mon O’Gor­man cre­ates a pa­thetic loser of Mr Burgess. There is tri­umph, though, in laugh­ing at a preda­tor. “Is it be­cause I’m older?” a love-struck Mr Burgess asks Sharon.

“It’s be­cause I hate the f**king sight of you,” replies our un­spar­ing hero­ine. Now that is A1.

PHOTO: STE MURRAY

Colour­ful de­but: De­laney and Clif­ford

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