Night Swimming – Evening Echo Review

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Dark Side of the Family

This new play at the CAT Club is a response to the terrible stories of fatal tragedies related to parents and young children.

Night Swimming is an exploration of the raw and harrowing material of extreme domestic stories where the family seems to spiral almost inevitably towards a sad end.

Rather than presuming to know how to tell it as it is, writer Kenneth Hickey imagines his way in and around this difficult material. What he comes up with is deliberately self-conscious in its style in that it is like a board-game for two players.

The husband and wife move around a predetermined space, landing on various set-piece scenes that they play out.

The characters all but say: “C’mon, your turn.”

Though it has this carefully wrought and contrived structure, it manages to avoid being trite.

And, even though it is a monotone of pain and sadness, it is quite theatrical.

Director, Eoin Ó hAnnracháin applies a subtle hand to the text, nicely modulating its frequent wavy moves from naturalistic scenes to moments that are more harsh and expressionistic.

James Browne catches the troubled and deeply broody layers of the husband while Kate McSwiney O’Rourke wrestles with the fragility and anger of a woman marginalised as a woman “suffering from her nerves.”

Better than Hickey’s Autopsy which featured in the CAT Club last year, this time he has found a style that suits the more lyrical and dramatic flourishes of his writing.

As a representation of a family melting down into dark and awful destruction who knows how true it is?

But, as a response to stories that have become part of a netherworld of Irish contemporary life, it is a legitimate, intelligent and honest engagement.

Liam Heylin, Evening Echo, Wednesday the 12th of November, 2008.

11th – 15th of November
8pm
Cork Arts Theatre, Carroll’s Quay, Cork.
Bookings 021 4505624.
Tickets €15/€10

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