Sick at The New Theatre

September 19, 2014

Time is running out for Orla, a thirty-something carer whose mum suffers from early onset Alzheimer’s. With her unlived youth fading away behind her and the last traces of her Ma fading before her eyes, her already bleak future takes a darker turn when the public health nurse reminds her that there’s only so long that she can keep her mother on the antipsychotics that have quelled her violent moods. Unable to enjoy a moment to herself- to indulge the company of the very real local shopkeeper, or his fantastical alter ego she romantically dreams up, the cracks between comforting self-delusion and paranoid deductions chasm violently, sucking any chance for a happy resolution into it.

Roisin Coyle’s ambitious drama provides an engrossing look at the long-term effect that caring for a parent can take on a child, the responsibility, the patience and the struggle of the day-to-day embroidered with well researched observations on the disease and its gnarling insidiousness. It’s distressing but also very funny, in its study of the inappropriate role reversal and the performance from Deirdre Monaghan-as the mother, is exceptional. From manipulative shrew to shrunken Mater, her eyes are alive with ravaged struggle, registering the sudden shifts of her character with tightly coiled panic, that bucks and strains but never seems beyond the performers control.

A much longer play shrunk to fit the limits of a Fringe running time, so many of the emotional and thematic depths of Coyle’s script can only be flagged and not plundered. It can feel factual, instead of theatrical, as characters don’t have time to digest new information as they are forced to react so as to push the plot along, which results in a lack of variety from the other players.

While not festival fit, Sick has a lot of interesting things to say and there’s plenty of potential to up the theatrical ante with a longer stretch in the running time at later date


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