This true story, about actor and writer Noelle Brown’s attempt to find her birth mother, is presented in a way that is entertaining as well as poignant and angry.
Brown, who was born in Bessborough mother and baby home in Cork, in 1965, and adopted by a loving family, was 35 when she decided to trace her biological mother.
While this is a serious play that highlights the lack of rights of adoptees — they don’t have automatic access to a birth certificate — it is not a tedious litany of bureaucratic stone-walling.
As a comic device, Brown plays her alter ego Breda Brogan, an apologetic private investigator who says ‘sorry’ even when she has done nothing wrong.
Brogan provides necessary light relief, a contrast to Brown, who is a strident woman in search of her true identity.
Great opening night last night at The Everyman! Thanks to everyone who stuck around after to share their own stories pic.twitter.com/7oSg3JzlbH— Noelle Brown (@BrownNollieb) March 24, 2015
The journey unfolds through a series of letters, spoken by Brown and her correspondents, an auntie Patty (sister of Brown’s adoptive mother) and Kathleen, her birth mother’s sister. Brid Ní Neachtain plays the hectoring aunt who can’t understand her niece’s mission and believes the past should be left alone.
She uses words such as ‘shameful’ to describe Noelle’s birth mother’s situation back in the dark, repressive days of 1960s Ireland.
But what is really shameful is the way Brown’s birth mother was treated like a skivvy during her confinement.
Also, Brown is ignored by a priest who was a close friend of her biological mother.
She writes numerous letters to him, looking for clues about her mother. Brown sarcastically remarks about Fr Murphy that he doesn’t respect any law “except canon law”.
While there are flashes of anger in this play, it is not a rant. But Brown can’t help feeling like an outsider.
Performed on a stage that is bare but for two chairs and a screen, onto which images are projected, this is a deftly handled exploration of Brown trying to find her roots.
In the end, it is sad and anti-climactic — but real life often is. Brown concludes by saying simply that she is “alright”.
Final performance tonight
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