By Isabella Fraser
A crowded set and a girl standing at the front of the stage set the beginning of this tale about a mother with Alzheimer’s (played by writer Angela Walsh) and her daughter Lianna (Jessica Corcoran) who has learning difficulties. These are two difficult issues to cover in one play and with a cast of seven to cover 12 characters, the text begins to stretch a bit thin in trying to do justice to both.
There are several changes of scene in this one-hour play; because of the sectioned areas, most of these work well in moving the action to an alternative place. Director Sarah Van Parys has managed to creatively move key characters in a scene from one area to another with a lighting change or clothing amendment. This is no mean feat with so many people on stage, but it is successful in the main. However, because of the short scenes, it can be difficult to fully capture the emotion or journey in a scene simply because there is not enough time – we get snippets of meaning but are left to pin together what has happened by catching up some scenes later. Because of this, some of the text seemed stilted and did not flow.
There are some lovely comic moments that happen so quickly they take the audience by surprise. Individually, when they have enough time or scope to do so, actors performances are expressive, particularly when we see Walsh losing her mind, but when crammed into a scene with little emotional room to maneuver, the pace seems to flag. It may be that there is a longer play in this that would allow a greater in-depth exploration of the Alzheimer development and a deeper awareness of Lianna’s own struggles.
The Road to Skibbereen runs until 25 August in C+1 at C at 14.15. Running time is 1 hour.