BWW Review: Surviving The CRESTFALL

BWW Review: Surviving The CRESTFALL

"Live in the present - isn't that what they say?" offers a hesitant Tilly near the end of Mark O'Rowe's unhinged Crestfall.

In a brutalised world of incest, violence, and prostitution, Tilly's suggestion seems grimly ironic: as the primary concern of the play's characters is a desperate struggle for survival, an anxiety about how to live is, at best, academic.

Written in present-tense rhyming couplets, O'Rowe's 2003 revenge tragedy is delivered as three separate monologues.

In a dystopian landscape charged with searing verbal aggression, sustained horror, and gratuitous violence, the drama unfolds on the day when the lives of its three characters - Olive, Alison, and Tilly - fatefully intersect.

If redemption and motherhood are the play's primary colours, a crisis of masculinity hovers in the background.

Director Annabelle Comyn coaxes finely-wrought performances from a uniformly strong cast in Druid Theatre's blistering revival.

Kate Stanley Brennan invests Olive, who wants to "wreck wanton carnage on this town", with a cocky brazenness that never obscures her character's fundamental appetite for dignity.

As Olive's monologue reaches its inexorable crescendo, it meshes with Philip Stewart's scintillating soundscape.

Summoning the bitterness of Medea and almost spitting her words with fury, Siobhán Cullen convincingly portrays the fragile vulnerability buried underneath Alison's raging ferocity.

As Tilly, Amy McElhatton effectively slows the pace for the production's final monologue. While the newcomer hints at the gentleness and naivety of Tilly, McElhatton's characterisation lacks the emotional breadth of her co-performers.

Tilly's assertion that she has been "disowned and forsaken" by God might be the touchstone for Aedín Cosgrove's spare, arresting set design.

Resembling the trailer of an articulated truck, the crimson-coloured interior conjures an unsettling limbo that, accentuated by the women's identikit, anonymous gowns and by lighting that depicts them as ghosts, seems to perpetually trap the characters in a savage, depraved underworld.

Photo credit: Stephen Cummiskey

Crestfall runs at the Mick Lally Theatre, Galway, as part of the Galway International Arts Festival, until July 29 and at the Peacock Stage at The Abbey Theatre, Dublin from August 1 - 12. See Suitable for over 16s only.

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From This Author Brendan Daly