Dublin Will Show You How reminds us of all-too-real isolation

Picture: Ros Kavanagh

Dublin Will Show You How

Peacock/The Complex, Dublin

This collaboration between the Abbey and the Complex, an arts venue in Dublin’s Smithfield, began when Vanessa Fielding, of the Complex, initiated the Browbeating Project, in which 100 women from drug-blighted inner-city communities came to share their experiences.

Writer Tracy Martin sat in on workshops with the women, and her play distills their experiences of fear, intimidation, poverty, and addiction.

Denise McCormack plays Joan, a grieving mother whose addict son has died. Karen Ardiff, a late addition to the cast, and still with script to hand, gives a powerful performance as Tina, a mother whose eldest son is starting to do “favours” for the local drug boss, Leo (David O’Meara).

Meanwhile, she’s trying to stay clean and financially stable to win back her other children from their care home. 

Leah Moore plays Cathleen, a young mother constantly totting up her outgoings to see what’s left over for alcohol and tobacco.

Liz Fitzgibbon plays Marie, pushed to prostitution by a violent boyfriend. 

She doubles up as Josie, a homeless heroin addict whose staccato rhymes transcend the otherwise realist depictions. 

Indeed, Josie’s commentary is enough to make another stylistic embellishment — a chorus of seagulls flying overhead, naming and venerating the city below — all the more unnecessary.

The action unfolds in traverse, with the audience on either side of a largely bare stage. 

Towards the wings are the rickety, raised platforms of Sarah Jane Foley’s set, effectively used to create the blocks of flats, balconies and stairwells of the play’s setting.

Fielding directs the action fluidity, with frequent changes of role and of scene. 

Characters linger and blend into another person’s story, creating an intimate, community feel. 

It’s an effective tribute to the show’s origin material. 

And yet, Martin’s many strands and stories do not ever fully cohere, reminding us of another all-too-real experience, even in the tightest-knit community: isolation.

Final show tonight at The Complex

More on this topic

We’ll meet again: Sunday Songbook to feature tunes of Vera Lynn

Third act: 75-year-old strikes a high note on stage

‘Furniture’ play is couched in relatable language

Review: Theatre, Ulster American

More in this Section

Ask a counsellor: ‘I’m pregnant – should I tell my fiancé I’m not totally sure he’s the father?’

Stylish salvage: Make your home street smart with reclaimed and recycled materials

Irish Examiner Sustainability Month special: Are retailers meeting customer expectations for sustainable products?

Making the most of Irish strawberries - Michelle Darmody shares her recipes


Latest Showbiz

Say You'll Be There: All you need to know about the Spice Girls gig

Keanu Reeves' Duke Caboom steals the show in Toy Story 4 trailer

Downton Abbey prepares for royal visit in first full trailer for film

BBC’s first female TV newsreader Nan Winton dies aged 93

More From The Irish Examiner