The prison setting for the premiere of Enda Walsh’s play, The Same, produced by Corcadorca, is very appropriate. A place of detention is about stripping away the self while being trapped.
The play is the story of a young woman, played with searing intensity by Eileen Walsh, who meets an older woman, played with world weariness by Catherine Walsh. The younger Lisa gradually learns that the older woman is the same person as she.
In real life, the two actors are sisters. In the play, Eileen’s character arrives in a new, unnamed city, accompanied by a feeling of dread. She moves into some sort of residential home, where medication is handed out at meal times.
Once young Lisa realises that her identity, her very being, has already been experienced, a philosophical conundrum arises. She feels stolen of choice; she wonders what kind of a life the older Lisa has made for her and asks: “Where is the start and end of me?”
Before the audience meets the actors in a large recreation room, complete with jigsaw puzzles and a TV game show playing in the background, we are brought on an atmosphere-setting tour of the recently decommissioned prison.
We see the communal shower area, and the former cells house various installations, including a sculpture of a massive wedding cake, some of which is destroyed.
Has there been a broken marriage? What is the significance of a large, plumped-up bed in one room and a heap of duck feathers in another?
Like the play itself, there is much to ponder. You probably won’t find all the answers, but it all makes for an intriguing and totally engaging experience.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox