Theatre review - Moment

By Deirdre Kinahan

Bush Theatre

Running until 26 March 2011

In the 1990s a group of Irish playwrights wowed West-End audiences. Now, in a small fringe theatre in West London, Deirdre Kinahan’s wonderful play (first staged in Ireland two years ago) heralds a new talent who can clearly join the ranks of Irish luminaries such as Sebastian Barry, Marina Carr, Martin McDonagh, Conor McPherson, and Mark O'Rowe.

MOMENT revolves around a family in crisis and is a poignant exploration of a split-second decision made fourteen years earlier and how its consequences continue to reverberate throughout all their lives.

Recently married, Nial returns home to Dublin to visit his mam, Teresa, and introduce her to his English wife, Ruth (Rebecca O’Mara). As the family sit down for tea, sibling resentments simmer away and look set to erupt at any moment. The conversation is initially desultory but the tension is palpable.

As a teenager, Nial committed a murder that left his mother and two sisters reeling. He’s done his time and is now a successful artist. But his violent act changed his family irrevocably and they continue to struggle with their own feelings of guilt and incomprehension. Teresa survives by adopting a permanent state of denial about her son’s crime, but his homecoming threatens to send her over the edge.

It’s a dramatic subject and Kinahan’s immaculate plotting is well served by David Horan’s electric production and a terrific cast. Maeve Fitzgerald is superb as the caustic, up-tight sister Niamh, who lost her best friend, whilst Kate Nic Chonaonaigh provides a perfect counterpoint as the gentler, more forgiving, younger sister Ciara. Deirdre Donnelly as the damaged, heavily medicated mother is also superb and Ronan Leahy is utterly convincing as the edgy, guilt-ridden Nial. Kinahan cleverly includes three outsiders whose presence brings the dysfunctional family into sharp relief. As well as Ruth, the sisters’ partners, Fin (Will Joseph Irvine) and Dave (Karl Quinn), join the family for tea.

There are many spine-tingling moments in MOMENT, not least when Nial attempts to describe the reasons for his past crime. It all makes for great theatre and is surely worthy of a West-End transfer. Don’t miss.

Originally published in Theatreworld