REVIEW: LAGAN AT THE OVALHOUSE THEATRE

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

 Image: © Kate Moross


'Lagan' takes us channel-hopping through life in contemporary Belfast where, 13 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, much and little has changed.


Ian is heading home at the request of his cake-baking, brass band-conducting mother, Anne. He doesn't yet know it but his teenage sister Aoife is pregnant. When Ian jumps in a cab, attention jumps to its belligerent driver, who has concerns of his own. And so it goes: characters meet, stories overlap then diverge, issues move in and out of focus, the spectre of the Troubles hovers in the background.


Tracey scampers around playing childish games; a jittery Joan (Pauline Hutton, pictured) encounters the ghost of her dead son; Fiona and Emmet meet, flirt, fall in love. The set is sparse, with a few choice objects making it niftily adaptable - it's a boat, a car, someone's front room, a shopping centre - while a cast of four, in identical blue boiler suits, switch between ten roles with panache.


All the performances are witty and engaging, but Kathy Kiera Clarke is particularly good as Anne, syrupy on the surface and steely below. Blurring dialogue and monologue, Stacey Gregg's lyrical, punchy script is a delight. Sombre one moment, laugh out loud funny the next, her writing lends 'Lagan' its urgency and verve.


Lagan runs until 12 November at the Ovalhouse Theatre. Tickets are £14, concessions £7.


This review originally appeared in Time Out

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