Theatre Review: Lally The Scut
April 21, 2015 Chris Caldwell 0 Comments
Tinderbox and The Mac offer us Abbie Spallen’s new play Lally The Scut; an outrageous, satirical critique of the lives and issues existing today in the North of Ireland. Twelve talented local actors take the stage and guide us through a bleak landscape with offerings of hilarity and raw despair in equal doses.
Set on the outskirts of a present-day Northern Irish border town, Spallen tells the story of Lally (Roisin Gallagher) a tormented, tough, and heavily pregnant young woman who’s small son is trapped down a flood well. As far as Lally is concerned this is a cruel twist of fate, as Lally herself was abandoned down the same well as a child by her fanatically religious mother (Maria Connolly). However, this very repetition of history has made the already outlandishly eccentric local townsfolk suspicious of Lally and her deadbeat husband, leaving the township reluctant to help. As the story unfolds we are introduced one-by-one to local council members, politicians, journalists, and the clergy; all of whom are absorbed into the drama while flavouring it with their own agendas, neurosis, and eccentricity.
Lally’s desperation is poignant and morbidly reflective as she struggles in the middle of an inept community of perverted clergy, dissident paramilitaries, bitter civilians, and incompetent politicians who selfishly follow their own agendas in times of crisis. The play can be incredibly funny at times, and this mixture of despair and humour can be seen as a direct stereotypical trait of the Northern Irish population. Gallagher maintains the energy and despair of Lally throughout the play. Other notable performances come from Tara Lynne O’Neill and Miche Doherty who, in perfectly timed and convincing comical style, represent a rambling ‘post-conflict’ and ‘progressive’ Republican political movement. Embittered mother-in-law, Ellen, is also portrayed very dynamically and powerfully by the fabulous Carol Moore.
Ciaran Bagnall’s set design is as dirty and muddy as the historical and political landscape it represents. Hills, marshes, and mucky fields set the scene of small town Ireland and the narrow minded, backward lifestyles that populate it.
Lally The Scut is a fast moving play which explores themes of tortured frustrations, deep hopelessness, and socio political stagnancy within a community struggling to progress in the wake of suffering. Spallen has intelligently conveyed this message through often hilarious (if not obscene!) dialogue enveloped by disturbing events. The play will offend one ear while tickling the other. It is a thoroughly enjoyable production in general. Expect heavy doses of dark humour, laugh-out-loud dialog, and knife edge energy sharpened by nervous desperation. A standing ovation well deserved.
Lally The Scut is on at The MAC until the 2nd May, more info here.