Tuesday, May 04, 2010

"The Woman from the North" - May 2010

With our increasing elderly population and incidence of those suffering with dementia, Bernard MacLaverty's play is dealing with a very current issue when it introduces us to Cassie who is spending a period in residential care. But despite a hugely impressive central performance from Eileen Nicholas, it somehow feels like a piece from 20 years ago.

Back then, this would have been a window into a hidden world that wasn't spoken about, but now few people are left untouched by these conditions either in their immediate or extended family. There's little to see here that most audience members won't have experienced first hand - and Cassie's situation is very much at the gentler end of the spectrum.

I'm not advocating a sensationalist approach to a serious issue, but there are aspects that could have been focused on that would have given the piece something current to say - the financial burden of residential care, patients refusing medication, standards of care and conflicting wishes of family members among others.

But while lacking an incisive edge the play is beautifully executed and director Liz Carruthers provides some delightful touches. It's a shame much of the Oran Mor audience failed to pick up on a fantastic pre-show piece of scene setting taking place in front of their noses.

The Woman from the North runs as part of A Play, A Pie & A Pint at Oran Mor until Saturday 8th May.
Image by Leslie Black used with permission.