Our Lady Of The Goldfinches, Theatre Review. Unity Theatre, Liverpool.
Cast: Rachel Priest, Bairbre Ni hAodha, Cellan Scott, Lee Godwin, Sarah Niven.
There are still moments on both sides of Ireland’s border that still haven’t been fully explained. The atrocities on both sides that needs to acknowledged and grieved over before it seems the country can move on finally in the mould of one of the finest in Europe.
One of those moments is explored in painstaking detail in the excellent play Our Lady of the Goldfinches by Jane McNulty and although the subject matter of the murder of Jean McConville in 1972 by the I.R.A. is hard hitting and can be quite distressing when you read through the script, it is none the less important to question and understand why it was deemed that this woman had to die.
The production seemed to rely on the spoken words more than many others that have come to Liverpool in recent times, perhaps only bettered by The Chronicles of Long Kesh at the Everyman Theatre in 2010 and its dramatic look at the devastation caused by the struggle in the country. Yes there were props that the cast used but the play remained focused on what was being said and in particular the way it was said. For in a land where even the one word out of place could have people at your throat and former friends turn on each other, what was remained unsaid was just as powerful, just as likely to have repercussions in people’s lives.
The chilling moments where the Sinn Fein man, played with incredible persuasion and diligence to the character by Cellan Scott, was one of the most haunting moments in the play as on every street corner he was there watching, waiting and denying. Much praise must be laid at Rachel Priest for her performance as Helen, the real life daughter of Jean McConville. Ms. Priest captured the mood perfectly between frantic desperation and undying loyalty to her mother’s life and memory.
No-one, certainly not on this side of the Irish Sea, will ever truly understand the tension between two sides of people dealing with the hatred of a neighbour but Jane McNulty’s incredible and touching script shows that singular moments that drove a nation apart still needs to be fully explained to all.
Hard hitting and intensely powerful!
Ian D. Hall