Frances Winston reviews this ‘compelling piece’ about a girl struggling with both her sexual identity, and the Catholic Church’s teaching on LGBT matters
Theatre Upstairs, Lanigan’s Bar, 10 Eden Quay, Dublin 1, until November 25th, 7 pm. Full details below.
Ireland’s relationship with the Catholic Church is extremely complex, and for the LGBTQ community it is even more so. I know many members of the community who have a very strong faith, but struggle with the church’s teachings about their sexuality. The girl in this play is no exception.
We never find out her name, but she takes us through her complicated relationship with her religion, from the little girl making her communion, to her apathy towards mass in her teens, to dreaming of getting married by the same priest who has officiated all the other religious milestones in her life.
However, when she leaves home to study in the UK, she undergoes an awakening, and despite numerous flings with men, finds that she is attracted to her female friend. But this goes against all the bible’s teachings, leading to an epic inner struggle.
Writer/performer, Leigh Douglas, has created a compelling piece that builds nicely, and ties up all its loose ends satisfactorily. It loses its way slightly in the middle, where she seems to forget about her underlying theme, but it manages to get back on track. There are also one or two scenes that could be removed without disrupting the flow of the play, but they still work. There is plenty of humour to lighten the mood, and she perfectly captures those awkward early adult years, where not even the most seemingly confident person is sure about their own identity, and everyone is just finding their feet in the world. Her performance is hugely energetic and compelling. The kind of performance that you get exhausted watching.
The staging is simple. There is a kneeler like those you see in a church, and a large marble-effect block that could be an altar, but serves many purposes during the show. The lighting is also simple, meaning that all the focus is on the words and performance.
This is a multi-layered piece, and tackles many issues that affect people in today’s world. The performance is listed as approximately 1 hour, and the show I attended went slightly over this, but it didn’t feel that long, which is a good sign. Although she struggles with her sexuality, LGBTQ themes aren’t shoved down your throat. This shows that it is possible to write a play about issues in the community without it being the be-all and end-all.
This play will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled with their own sense of identity, irrespective of sexuality. Anyone who went through the machinations of the Catholic school system will appreciate many of the recollections, and everyone will recognise at least one of the ‘supporting characters’ that Douglas dips in and out of.
This is a lovely piece of work that will leave you feeling nostalgic, while also causing you to perhaps examine your own relationships.
Details of venue and tickets below:
Theatre Upstairs, Lanigan’s Bar
10, Eden Quay, Dublin 1
Runs until November 25th, 7pm nightly
Matinees Wednesday and Saturday 1pm
Tickets €12/10. Dinner and a show €18/€16
Phone: +353 (0)85 772 7375
Leigh Douglas / WRITER + CAST
Fiona Kingwill / DIRECTOR
Naomi Faughan / SET DESIGN
Martha Godfrey / LIGHTING DESIGN
Gavin Hennessy / SOUND DESIGN
Amy Warren / MOVE MENT
Emma Hanley / PRODUCER