Sunday 2 April 2023

Bloody Yesterday - Review

White Bear Theatre, London


Written by Deirdre Kinahan

Directed by Rex Ryan

Elizabeth Moynihan and Sinead Keegan


Deirdre Kinahan’s new 50 minute two-hander tells the story of Lily (Elizabeth Moynihan) an English art student who married an Irish farmer, hated the set up and finally abandoned him and their small children. This quite simple story is told in a series of interlocking monologues that alternate between the now 40-something Lily and her elder adult daughter, Siofra (Sinead Keegan). Lily feels a certain amount of guilt while Siofra evinces anger that is sometimes sardonic, sometimes bitter. 


Keegan is a strong actor and warms into the part as the play progresses. Her occasional pretend comments to the audience are effective and very natural. Moynihan gives us a much colder character who has never come to terms with her failures. They occupy different halves of the playing area because, of course, they are in different places without contact, until eventually they speak on the phone when Siofra realises she needs to tell this person -  she repeatedly says, puzzled, to herself “Mum, mummy, mama … Lily?” -  about recent developments in the family.


The story telling is convoluted and the show is almost over before the details of what happened are clear. The writing carries careless inconsistencies too with at one point Siofra saying that her mother left before she was four and yet later she remembers sitting at a table with her, aged six. It is, however, occasionally interesting to hear something from two points of view. Siofra has always loved her Granny, for example, and is rueful about her eventual dementia. Lily on the other hand loathed her mother-in-law.


This play might possibly work better as part of a double bill. As it is it feels slight as a standalone piece. Moreover, one has to wonder why the dance interludes were included, unless it was to bulk out the length.


The ending proves to be a damp squib. The main narrative interest is anticipation of what will occur when the two women finally meet. In the event nothing happens – it is as if the playwright has run out of ideas.

Runs until 2nd April

Reviewed by Susan Elkin

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