Bogboy Review

July 11, 2010


Bog Boy is the follow up production by Tall Tales Theatre Company to last years Moment, not to be missed on its upcoming national tour. Written by its artistic director Deirdre Kinahan it is effectively about the disappeared, a group of people who went missing from Belfast and Northern Ireland in the early 1970s who were suspected of informing on the IRA. But it also looks at the people who have disappeared through the cracks in our society; Brigit, a junkie on rehabilitation, desperate to get back on the straight and narrow to regain custody of her little girl and Hughie, a confirmed, quirky bachelor whose dark past has frozen him in time. They cling to and collide with one another, desperate to keep their pasts submerged, yet your sins are only as bad as your secrets and they all come spilling out when the Gardai go digging in the bog near Hughie’s home.

The whole piece is presented on a bare stage, divided by two muslin panels with no props and very little movement, relying on the clarity of the actors diction and their belief in what they are saying and seeing to make the piece come alive, with director Jo Mangan having the characters stare out into the audience rather than at one another. There is a somewhat over bearing soundtrack and a jarring use of visuals for the shows climax but elsewhere the script is utterly bewitching, creating these very real characters and very real scenarios, connecting a to b, without drowning us in detail.

Mary Murray, as Brigit, is terrific, a selfish if bubbly individual prone to flying to extremes when confronted with other peoples problems. She has enough of her own and while we can’t help but warm to her we are never allowed forget that she is all about herself, not averse to using Hughie but wholly unwilling to take heed of him. Steve Blount, as Hughie, is perfectly insular, not so much as to disappear beneath his mumbled dialogue but not so little as to be overly affected, he creates a character by appearing to do not very much at all but anchors the piece with a naturally, bumbling performance that is verily touching in its simplicity. We were all laughing at him until we were mourning for him.

Support from Emmet Kirwan, as the cartoonish scobe Darren, an underdeveloped sulk embittered by the responsibility thrust upon him and Damien Devaney, as Brigit’s social worker is strong but this is really a three hander between Brigit, Hughie and the looming presence of the body in the bog, what they have to say for themselves and how it reflects on the Now and on Then.

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