Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Saoirse is in her sewing room, in the attic of her house. She starts the tale of her upbringing where we meet her friend Siobhan, the lads and people who appear in her comic tragic story of trying to make sense of a world that she meets with unbridled shyness. We go through her trials and tribulations thanks to a hugely impressive performance by Eva O’Connor.
Solo storytelling can be very daunting and O’Connor starts with a guile and confidence that she continues throughout our hour together. This is confident and has every reason to be. There is a panache with her telling the story which drives the narrative but keeps you holding onto her coat tails. It really does start to rev up when you get to meet her friend Siobhan who hangs over the tale like a second storyteller. We are taken through a variety of adventures which include ring worm, getting work and sewing a quilt it ends with a philosophical note towards which we were beautifully worked.
It was very well directed with the set being used as a suitable backdrop to the whole series of Saoirse’s episodes. There were a few issues with sightlines due to the cramped nature of the venue but there was enough noise and battles to keep you in the loop. Some of the set pieces were exquisite with the accent being more strident for Siobhan, a seamless move towards a Northern Irish accent at one point and the scenes with the lads, sheer joy.
Lighting and soundscape were used to great effect giving us a sense of the claustrophobic nature of the society in which Saoirse found herself and we were viewing from our seats. The script was bristling with plenty of describable and theatrical action that made it an easy watch.
Last year we heard a lot of talk about think globally and act locally. One of the great theatrical truths must be that universal themes are best explored in the minutiae of the familiar. The familiarity of this story is one of the reasons that it works at almost every level. We hear Saoirse but can identify with the story and its impact upon the various characters because it tells us as much about ourselves and society as it does about this invented character.
Overall this was a great performance underpinned by a tremendously assured direction and great script. At the end Saoirse’s description of life as not perfect, a bit rough around the edges but something to be proud of was as predictable as it was profound because of the sterling work put in beforehand.