of course - A WAKE.
I was so speechless after seeing Tom Murphy’s Wake in the Abbey earlier this summer that I haven’t found my voice till now. I think the brilliant set had a lot to do with it. It was so simple, stark and clean you felt no boundary between you and the characters. You really were at this wake-which-wasn’t-a-wake - it was more of an inquest. And even though it was truly awful, the 3hrs5mins flew by.
Had it stopped after the first half I think it would have been even more powerful. But maybe we needed the second half as a sort of debriefing, so that we could emerge back out into the balmy Dublin roadworks reasonably intact. If I had any quibbles it would be to wish that Vera’s accent had been ordinary. There was no need for an accent… but that’s just a quibble.
Because Aisling O’ Sullivan was the proverbial ‘tour de force’. As Vera, she shirked from nothing. You ended up spinning with her in cycles of fear, desire, a capacity to outrage and to show vulnerability in rapid shocking successions.
But it was her venal clan and how they responded to her that mesmerized me. Every character was a study. Which of us doesn’t know her ex? He is in all our DNA. As is her spacer sister-in-law. Her manipulative sister. Her victim sister. Her buffoon brother. Which of us doesn’t know that priest? He was massive. There was real tragic comedy in how each character struggled to respond to her. Their inadequacy was terrifying, these people were mean AND endearing. How did Murphy manage that? I loved them.
This play captured ordinariness and inadequacy more masterfully than anything I have even seen live. Well done Mr. Murphy and Abbey Theatre.
It’s important to go to wakes.
After my Abbey experience my regret this summer is that I missed another wake – this time a farcical masterpiece. A Wake in the West by Michael Joe Ginnelly performed by the Kilcloon players, would have been a perfect antidote to the Abbey experience.
At least I can enjoy and share this. Click on this ALBUM to view a beautiful photographic memento captured by Alan Monahan. And see what my favorite singer does in her downtime.
Well done Mr. Monahan and the Kilcloon Players.