Writer: Jennifer Tremblay
Translator: Shelley Tepperman
Director: Muriel Romanes
Reviewer: Gareth Davies
Family dramas may be as old as theatre itself, but the now familiar tropes of father and daughters, mothers and sons, are masterfully handled in this third of a series of plays by Quebec playwright Jennifer Tremblay.
Although the stage is peppered with characters, they are given life by sole performer Maureen Beattie, who takes us through family events from the life of the main character, a nameless narrator. Her mother lies dying, and wants only to die holding the hand of her estranged son. It is to this man, the narrator’s half-brother, and by association us the audience, that the main thrust of the play is delivered, an emotional and intense weaving together of thematic threads from their family history.
Tremblay’s writing (in a fine translation by Shelley Tepperman) delivers emotional resonance at every beat, her characters given light and shade through evocative and authentic observations, such as a young girl’s experience of her stepfather’s anger and disappointment, evidenced by his “driving fast on the cracked asphalt”. Beattie’s finely toned performance, by turns warmly witty and utterly heartbreaking, captures the joy and wisdom and humour and hurt of the characters, as she conveys the fateful ways in which “the child who dies or leaves becomes the centre of the family”.
Stellar Quines’s Muriel Romanes directs with a light touch, on a simple set designed by iconic Scottish artist John Byrne, in a deceptively uncomplicated production that has both classy and integrity.
Despite being part three of a trilogy, it is far from necessary to have experienced the previous chapters to appreciate and enjoy this self-contained family vignette – conversely, knowing how the saga ends may leave you craving to know more about the earlier episodes.
Until 31 August (not 12, 18, 19, 25, 26) 2015