THE­ATRE

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE CRITICS’ CHOICE -

PETER CRAW­LEY ONRAFTERY’SHILL

AbbeyTheat­re,Dublin.May1-12 7.30pm(Sat­mat2pm)¤13-¤45 abbeytheat­re.ie Most of Ma­rina Carr’s ma­jor plays orig­i­nated at the Abbey, the the­atre with which she has been most closely iden­ti­fied, but not the ex­cep­tion­ally bleak On Raftery’s Hill. Its char­ac­ters, in­hab­i­tants of Carr’s bru­tally imag­ined mid­lands, might be sur­prised at the widened cre­ative gene pool for the play’s pre­miere in 2000, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Druid and the Royal Court which toured to the Gate. The Rafterys them­selves pre­fer to keep things in the fam­ily.

“Zeus and Hera,” one char­ac­ter says of the myth­i­cal Greek cou­ple, “sure they were brother and sis­ter.” Sure, they were. But even they might have drawn the line at a fa­ther and daugh­ter in­cest story, un­der­taken since the girl was 12, and which has borne them a daugh­ter/sis­ter. “So we do ud from time to time, al­las in the pitch dark,” Di­nah tells her daugh­ter, Sor­rel, by way of ex­pla­na­tion, “never a word, ud’s nowan’s bleddy busi­ness.” Of course, the un­spo­ken and the re­pressed truth be­comes ev­ery­body’s busi­ness. The play abounds with up­turned se­crets and shames, from ab­sent par­ents to pol­luted farms and wide­spread abuse. Staged by di­rec­tor Caitríona McLaugh­lin, and given a pre­mium cast, the Abbey’s first pro­duc­tion of the play is bring­ing it all back home.

AU­TUMN ROYAL

Every­man The­atre. May 1-5 8pm ¤26/¤23(Stu­dents¤15) ev­ery­man­cork.com;Pro­jec­tArts Cen­tre.May8-127.45pm¤20/¤18 pro­jec­tarts­cen­tre.ie “Fat Larry is dead, girl,” one char­ac­ter solemnly re­ports in the au­thor Kevin Barry’s first orig­i­nal play, pre­miered early last year and now re­vived to tour na­tion­ally. In­deed, most things in Au­tumn Royal seem to be in a wor­ry­ing state of de­cline. The speaker, Ti­mothy, an up­beat brother to a down­cast sis­ter May, has been Googling the singer of the 1982 song Zoom, which they use as a kind of au­ral seda­tive for an un­seen fa­ther up­stairs. Now too moithered and ob­streper­ous to man­age, their op­tions are run­ning out and Au­tumn Royal – a nurs­ing home cho­sen from the Golden Pages over the marginally less eu­phemistic Win­ter Roses – seems like the best bet.

A skewed de­pic­tion of a fam­ily cop­ing with some­thing like Alzheimer’s, Barry’s dark com­edy sug­gests a broader sense of sta­sis, where a fam­ily and per­haps a so­ci­ety are borne cease­lessly back into the past, by mu­sic or the spin cy­cle of the wash­ing ma­chine, weighed down with is­sues and un­able to move on. That is clearly not the case of busy di­rec­tor Caitríona McLaugh­lin, also di­rect­ing Ma­rina Carr at the Abbey this week (see above), and here work­ing with ac­tors Siob­hán McSweeney and Peter Cam­pion in the re­mount. Fat Larry ought to count his bless­ing, though; com­pared to the plight of the liv­ing, he may be bet­ter off.

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