Sunday, July 09, 2017


Chichester Festival Theatre at the Minerva

Edna O'Brien's novel, notoriously banned in 1960s Ireland, is now re-shaped by its author into this beautiful drama, getting its UK premiere this year on the Minerva stage.
It's touching tale of innocence lost, in the repressed societyof Ireland in the 50s.
Lisa Blair's production brings those times, those places to life on a sloping, cobbled stage.

The two girls grow up in a rural community, largely untouched by progress, and are educated by nuns, ditto. Grace Molony as Kate and Genevieve Hulme-Beaman as her bosom friend Baba are both excellent, capturing the two country girls at many points along their journey from the sticks to the big city, from cross-strap sandals to scarlet shoes, from naïve, flighty school girls to older, wiser young women.

Colm Gormley is Kate's drunken and abusive father, Malachi, is frighteningly believeable, club in hand, frustrated that he cannot tame his daughter as he breaks his horses.

Jade Yourell gives a moving performance as te young postulant, Sister Mary – some touchingly tender moments, hinting at more than they express, with her star pupil Kate.
She has another enigmatic relationship, much darker and much more dangerous, with Valéry Schatz's Mr Gentleman, the suave but slightly sleazy older man.

The cast play multiple roles – the German landlady and her hen-pecked husband stand out – and Keshini Misha makes an exotic Spanish lady – rebranded Singing Woman in the cast list.

The setting is simple but highly evocative: the quayside suggested by two ropes, the hotel room by a lampshade. And since this is Chichester, there's real Irish rain, too.

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