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.
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.