Denoument, Spoken Word Theatre Review – Belfast’s Lyric Theatre & Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre Company
By Conor O’Neill
Ever had a headache you’ve enjoyed, one that lasts for one and a half hours, one that asks you more questions than you can answer? Ever had that creeping feeling that all is not going well?
Well, here’s a type of audio theatre that’ll bring you back to base, retrack and retrace; one hour and 30 odd minutes that’ll make you wonder. An hour and a half that’ll make you count your blessings and be thankful we’re living in Covid times and not those of John Morton’s post-apocalyptic world that is drones and bombs and god knows what’s going on.
This radio play, which was meant to physically play as an actual stand up and be counted on both sides of the Irish Sea has been reduced to an audio performance. I say reduced, what I mean to say is elevated to a cracking piece of mindful piece of total immersive listen in and get thy head blown out by an astounding piece of writing and acting that’ll leave you stun-gunned from start to finish.
Normally a reviewer will waste 200 odd words describing the stage, lighting, costume, movement, the thrill of being in a packed theatre and etc. etc. etc. But, no, not here.
You’ve got to imagine it.
Two main actors, Marie Jones and Ian McElhinney form the base of the tale; kinda Z For Zachariah, no one gets outta here alive material. Set in a country home, miles away from everywhere and with nothing but coke and K to see them through; shotguns and lies fill the kitchen. I wouldn’t go as far as say they’re a couple at war, more a duo at their wits end. And all will spill in the last 20 or so minutes.
It’s 2048. They’re in their 60s coming close to 70, born in the 1980s. Drug culture plays a lot in this piece of claustrophobic ‘clusterfuck’ – their words not mine – drama, imagine our generation in 30 years! To quote and quip REM, ‘it’s the end of the world as we know it’, but nothing feels fine.
Frantic phone calls, suicides, dodgy Garda, a prodigal son with history, a daughter on the other side of the world, bombs going off in every direction, the gospel according to… the Hail Mary forgotten, and all the while McElhinney’s Liam types away luddite style on an old typewriter trying to write his memoirs as his wife, Jones’ Adele tries to put her life in order; getting radio here and there, talking to this and that, all the while chopping lines H