THE­ATRE PETER CRAW­LEY

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE -

GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATH­ERS Black Box The­atre, Gal­way. Pre­views Mar16-19Open­sMar20-248pm ¤22.50-¤30;O’Reil­lyTheatre,Dublin 7.30pm (Sat mat 2pm) Mar 28–Apr 5 ¤26-¤40com­plicite.org Noth­ing fills the ab­sence that announces grief, but in Max Porter’s ab­sorb­ing and af­fect­ing book Grief is

the Thing with Feath­ers, it does in­vite a strange new pres­ence. This is Crow who sweeps into a Lon­don flat shared by Dad, his two young sons, and, un­til a very re­cent tragedy, their mother. That Dad is a lit­er­ary scholar, cur­rently work­ing on an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Ted Hughes, is not lost on him. And just as the poet trans­muted his grief into his sem­i­nal col­lec­tion Crow , so Dad seems to have sum­moned this in­de­ter­mi­nate fig­ure into the numb nor­mal­ity of their life: a taunter, pro­tec­tor, trick­ster, healer, a fine-feath­ered friend.

A star­tling, shud­der­ing work, full of lit­er­ary de­vices and hop­ping al­lu­sions, Porter’s book hardly screamed out for adap­ta­tion. But if any art form could ef­fect an equiv­a­lent sense of shapeshift­ing be­tween dispir­it­ing re­al­ity and uneasy dream, it’s the the­atre. And if any adapter could plumb the depths of loss with­out los­ing the in­stinct for play, it’s Enda Walsh. With his fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tor Cil­lian Mur­phy, a cham­pion of Porter’s book, Walsh’s work as adapter and di­rec­tor has taken wing with var­i­ous pro­duc­ers, fore­most among them the leg­endary Com­plic­ité and Way­ward Pro­duc­tions in as­so­ci­a­tion with Land­mark Pro­duc­tions and Gal­way In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val. Sold out in Gal­way and Dublin, with fur­ther in­ter­na­tional dates ex­pected, it is al­ready some­thing to crow about. THE UN­MAN­AGE­ABLE SIS­TERS Abbey The­atre, Dublin. Un­til Apr 7 7.30pm(Sat­mat2pm)¤13-¤45 abbeythe­atre.ie In 1968, the Que­be­cois play­wright Michel Trem­blay broke new ground with his play Les Belles-soeurs, putting 15 work­ing-class Mon­treal women on the stage and hav­ing them speak nat­u­rally. That re­quired the use of joual, a French di­alect that the es­tab­lish­ment al­ready con­sid­ered vul­gar, be­fore hear­ing it put to de­motic and pro­fane use here in a bois­ter­ous and cramped kitchen. A sen­sa­tional and lib­er­at­ing per­for­mance, which has the vain win­ner of a mil­lion Gold Star stamps (that fa­mil­iar cus­tomer loy­alty scam) and all the women she knows to help stick them into book­lets, it al­lowed for frank dis­cus­sions of men, the church, quo­tid­ian joy and, with cel­e­brated rap­ture, bingo. That may not sound en­tirely uni­ver­sal, and it’s telling that one of the most suc­cess­ful trans­la­tions of the play has been into Scots, a sym­pa­thetic ver­nac­u­lar, for The Guid

Sis­ters. Now Deirdre Ki­na­han adapts the play for 1970s Bal­ly­mun in a new Abbey pro­duc­tion di­rected by Gra­ham McLaren and star­ring, well, pretty much every­body. To sin­gle out any­one de­feats the pur­pose: even as the women help or be­tray one an­other, they’re united in an ar­got, the way their voices come to­gether.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: TIM WALKER

Some­thing to crow about: Cil­lian Mur­phy in Grief is the Thing with Feath­ers.

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