Seanmhair, Thursday 16th March, The Other Room, Reviewer: Isabel Wright
Pebbles would crack against my window in the pitch of the night
I’d lean out and say –
What do you want Tommy MacLeish you black eyed monster?
And he says –
Hywel John’s Seanmhair explores the life of Jenny, a strong willed Scottish woman, and her relationship to her husband, Tommy. Their connection begins at childhood, when they meet on the corner of a dingy Edenborough street. This link lasts a lifetime, binding them to one another from youth until old age. There is a dialogue between past and present in this play which opens up a unique perspective for the audience, letting them see how bygone events impact the later life of the character.
Despite the play containing a vast group of characters, the cast consists of only three women. Sian Howard, Hannah McPake and Molly Vevers all give stunning performances, portraying an incredible array of characters with ease. Each cast member also takes on the role of narrator, becoming as much a storyteller as an actress. Molly Vevers principally plays the young Jenny, with Sian Howard as her Seanmhair, or grandmother. The unbreakable bond between these two is portrayed beautifully, leaving the audience considering the importance of family.
The tiny venue helps to create a sense of intimacy and claustrophobia, drawing you into the story and bringing you closer to the action. The set consisted of two slanting brick walls, a simple layout, yet through sound design and cleverly placed lighting it was transformed; a cosy and inviting bedroom one minute, and a dark, foreboding alley the next.
Although it explores some exceptionally dark themes, Seanmhair is also amusing in places. This injection of humour lifts the mood just enough to give the audience space to recover from the shocking events of the play. The atmosphere created is one of mystery and darkness, however, the innocence of childhood provides a unique view on the gloomier themes explored throughout.
Overall, Seanmhair is a grim yet beautiful play about family, love and childhood, which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone.
by Isabel Wright