A few weeks ago I made the relatively short journey from my hometown of Naas down to the Community Centre Hall in the neighbouring town of Athy for a night of highly-anticipated theatrical performance.
Having missed the original production of ‘Goodbye to Marie’ in Tallaght’s Civic Theatre, it became an almost obligated incentive of mine to see what all the fuss was about.
With a cast of a mere 7 people, what can only be described as a basic stage arrangement (a worn sofa, two accompanying chairs and a night desk) and a lighting rig that failed to exclaim ‘big investment’, I feared writer/director/actor Joe O’Neill had gone for the simple, almost lazy, approach. I was sorely mistaken.
Over the course of the next hour and 45 minutes, I was to be entirely drawn in by a careful blend of relatable family issues, self-justified personal dynamics and intensity only previously viewable on the big screen.
The plot follows a dying mother and her sole carer in the form of her daughter. As news breaks of the former’s terminal illness, the other siblings come to mourn and say their final goodbyes.
However this is not without conflict. Each one has their own story of turbulent adolescence, an absent father and, at times, an even colder mother.
Common themes like betrayal and frustration emerge as the characters aim to place themselves above one another in the rat-race to find who had the most difficult upbringing.
Ultimately, a tense cease-fire results. However, whether we’ve actually witnessed a family who has come to terms with their history is really up to the individual.
A youthful production overall, Danii Byrne as ‘Sarah’ and Adam Tyrell as ‘Butler’ stood out for me. Both carried the story along, offering much needed comic relief at the correct intervals.
Credit must also be given to O’Neill for his casting, whilst the use of props and suitable lighting were perfect.
Overall, I would have to say that this was one of the best productions I’ve seen this year.