Theatre Review - The Dry House

MARYLEBONE Theatre is London’s newest performance space nestled between Regent’s Park and Baker Street station. Formerly known as Steiner Hall, the theatre is newly refurbished and promises an exciting programme of theatre, concerts, dance and spoken word events.

Part of their first spring season, Eugene O’Hare’s domestic drama, The Dry House, is about two Irish sisters struggling with grief and alcoholism. Chrissy (Mairead McKinley) has promised her sister Claire (Kathy Kiera Clarke) that after one final drink she will go to the “dry house” to get sober.

Claire arrives with four cans of lager intended to get Chrissy into a fit enough state to be admitted. The plot hinges on whether Chrissy will remain true to her word and attempt the two months’ rehab.

The house is a mess and it’s clear Chrissy has hit rock bottom. She used to work in a shoe shop. Now she barely functions. Chrissy is mourning the loss of her daughter Heather (Carla Langley) who died in a car crash four years earlier. But her grief has become an excuse to drink. Heather haunts both sisters.

I enjoyed O’Hare’s debut, The Weatherman, which played at Park200 in 2019. He’s clearly talented and has a fine ear for monologues. Here too each of the characters is given the opportunity to voice their fears and interrogate their inner demons.

However, listening to an alcoholic’s pain and their long self-destructive spiral into addiction for 90 minutes is a tall order. O’Hare has set himself a hard subject to write about dramatically and sustain tension. The most interesting revelations are Claire’s reasons for wanting her sister to save herself.

The Dry House is beautifully acted but covers familiar ground and, occasionally, it feels predictable or lacks subtlety.

When we hear of the Coldplay song Heather performed at a pub we know that this will feature at some point, while the opening of curtains and piercing light is a heavy-handed signifier of hope.

Until May 6

Originally published by Camden New Journal