Vincent River @ The Cube

August 17, 2010


There is a lot at work in Sophie Motley’s upsetting yet remarkably rewarding production of Philip Ridley’s Vincent River. An exposition of the mother son relationship it’s a grief driven game of cat and mouse played by Anita (Eleanor Methven), a 53 year old single mother and Davey (Kerr Logan), the 17 year old youth who came across the body of her only child, “a butchered queer in a urinal”.

Using this hate crime as its starting point Ridley’s text takes us into the duplicitous world of the closeted homosexual and the unknowing parent, the lies and the liberation’s told, both torturous and tantalized, the underlying score to a destructive dance of denial. “Don’t ask me and I won’t tell you”.

As Anita and Davey trade tales of the recent and long since past, their sordid and secret lives, the deceptions and perceptions of the “other” woman and the “good” son build to a shattering crescendo, a roaring release from years of deflecting contempt.

Ridley’s sagacious script unwinds from his characters taut introductions to their relapse into recently relinquished roles (Davey’s mother has recently passed away). As the gin and pills flow so to does the language as Ridley’s beautiful turn of phrase brings us into a world of consecrated cutlery, scorned souls, private pin ups and precious possessions as both expedite their past to make sense of their present.

There is some remarkable imagery- a mother’s shameful trek around London, her hands cut by the plastic bags brimming with her sons secret stash of pornography; the titular characters snow and blood laced urinal death bed; and a mother literally giving her son wings. Director Sophie Motley’s ability to make the written word formulate into independent images in the eyes of her audience, as witnessed in her excellent reading of This Evidence I Shall Give, is further proven here as she utilises light and sound and the tone of an actors voice to suck us into a characters memory, turning the shell of a set -a ruinous representation of emergency housing- into an abandoned train station, a hospital bed or a fraudulent engagement party.

The acting is sensational. Eleanor Methven further proves her imperativeness to the Irish stage in a performance that nails her characters “half brassy, half classy” credentials on the head. She captures the flighty, independent spirit of Anita’s yesteryear and blends it beautifully with the devastated bereaved mother whose ignorance to her son’s private life has left her unable to grieve for her “best friend”.

Fresh out of drama school Ker Logan makes a magnificent first impression; a wannabe rudeboi mammy’s boy battered by self-inflicted and parental betrayal. His accent occasionally wavers betraying his Northern Irish roots but more often it wavers in a positive way to match his “I’m a big boy” bravado or his wounded recoiling from the truth. His accent drops because his guard does.

The simplicity and honesty of their performance- From their jarring first meeting, the discomfort of which spreads out into the audience-to their almost maternal relationship-saying to this new model what they failed to tell the last- it is real life, there on the stage. It’s the little things that lay the foundation for a great performance and all the bases are covered here. From the way Davey sits and listens to Anita tell her tale to the way she removes her shoes, these are little moments that don’t add to the plot but by god do they add to the character.
It’s not perfect- Davey’s final reveal and the primal scream that follows it don’t quite work while the early blocking, where Davey continually turns his back on us, isn’t properly clarified- but it’s dam near perfect. A non-didactic issues piece that leaves you wanting more and dwelling over what you got.

A triumph for the Project Arts Centre, for producers Prime Cut and a shining example of what can be achieved when a cast and crew work in unison. But more importantly this piece marks a breakthrough for the countries gay community who, having been so long forgotten about or insulted by the Irish stage, are at last represented on it.

Vincent River

8.15PM, 10 – 21 AUG 2010
Project Arts Centre, The Cube, Tickets €16/12


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