The Party@ Bewley’s Cafe Theatre Review

February 3, 2010

Caitríona Ní Mhurchú began preparations for her role in this co-adaptation(with director Sophie Motley) of an Anton Checkov short story 8 months ago, staging it 150 years since the Russian writers birth. What she’s been doing all that time is beyond me as this production continues a worrying new trend for Irish actors to overly internalise their grief, leaving us with a performance that never captures the hysteria, paranoia and hormone charged rages her character succumbs to.

As Olga Mikhaylovna, a pregnant wife throwing a lavish birthday party for what appears to be a lousy husband, Ni Mhurucu never shifts her tone or delivery, telling us about how she feels but never showing us. Sick of the guests, sick of her life and suspicious of her spouses intentions towards a young ingenue she voices her concerns, suspicions and overall feeling of claustrophobia through a series of monologues broken up by a pleasant enough, if a little inane, soundtrack.

But as she casts her mind back and makes some worrying revelations you never really forget that this is an actress telling a tale rather than a genuine character involving us in her world. There is no life or energy to her portrayal of a woman smothered by circumstance. She makes no firm desicions to move the character from the page to the stage. And the mannered drawl she affects, as if constantly sighing, is infuriating.

As the play builds to its shattering conclusion Ni Mhurucu acts as if she has just passed gas, not lost a child and possibly a husband, and while she captures the physicality of the role she fails outright to convince you of, or even interest you in, her characters outcome.

The Party runs at Bewleys Cafe Theatre untill the 20th of Feburary at 1.10pm (doors open 12.50pm), 15euro (includes light lunch)

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