Druid Theatre Company give expression to Stuart Carolan's angry play about loss and its impact on the family unit. A weak-willed father; a mother whose presence is sorely missed; tortured siblings and the influence of the church permeate Carolan's meandering story.

Seamus Lamb (McGinley) is the actor who could have been a 'star'. Now bedridden, and nearing death, he is prone to rants, as he remembers his late wife. Of his two sons, Martin (Monaghan), the eldest, arrives for a visit. A weird conversation takes place between the pair, with the father pretending not to recognise him. Is this a result of an unstable mind or is it just a game? It is not made clear.

The other brother Matty (Murphy) has returned from New York. An effeminate character, who is mocked by his father for his crazy hair-style and weak disposition, he resorts to dressing in his sister's clothes. Sister Kate (Greene) has gone missing in London and her disappearance is the nearest thing the story has to plot.

Martin's worry about her leads to difficulties in his own relationship with Maria (Drummey) and subsequently, as events get the better of him, he takes his rage out on the Blessed Virgin for deserting Jesus on the Cross. We discover that Martin's anger at his own mother for deserting him is why his frustration is taken out on the religious symbol. Seamus also has a thing with such symbols, namely the crucifix.

Francis O'Connor's set design is dominated by a large mirror in which the actors can be seen always looking at themselves. Spectacular as it was, its only real benefit was that of a back-screen to recall childhood days and to embellish the haunting sounds that prefaced moments of tragedy.

The overly wordy text did not do much justice to the actors especially in the first half. Monaghan emerged with most credit as the seemingly damaged elder son, while McGinley, a fine performer in his own right, wasn't quite sure how far to take the delusional aspect of a now failed performer who desperately misses his wife.   

There is much confusion about what Carolan is actually trying to say about family bonds, sexuality and affliction. His characters are part of the success story that is latter day Ireland, with its ease of mobility and fancy watering holes. By showing us a darker side to this, Carlolan offers an interesting premise.

However, his failure to properly flesh out the characters; lack of a meaningful plot and the confusion, already mentioned, only serves to make this offering less interesting than it should have been. What was notable in Carolan's depiction of anger was the amount of bad and blasphemous language in the text. That combined with some unnecessary nudity and sex had the self-righteous up in arms on Joe Duffy's 'Liveline'. I'm sure that's not what Carolan and Hynes had in mind for this additional take on the dysfunctional Irish family.      

James McMahon