When Brigit and Bailegangaire premiered in Galway this summer, audiences and critics alike were blown away and reviews were all superlative in their praise. As part of the Dublin Theatre Festival, Druid are offering the chance to see the two plays again and I strongly urge everyone to beg, borrow or steal a ticket as they are the closest to theatrical perfection I have seen.
Written as a companion piece for Bailegangaire, Brigit is a new play by Tom Murphy that offers a glimpse into the past of Momo, the central character in Bailegangaire and it is a breathtaking piece of theatre. The beautiful and controlled performances from Bosco Hogan and Marie Mullen are both delightful and heartbreaking to watch, but it is the style of the writing that marks this peice as a masterpiece in its own right. Brigit seems to be Murphy turning a corner in the way he creates, a fine example of a writer who has the fullest confidence in his writing. It is a simple story told simply and that is that. However, paired with Bailegangaire it serves the purpose of highlighting the tragedy of the characters’ situations in Bailegangaire; seeing Momo turn from a caring and devout carer to her three orphaned grandchildren to a senile, frail old woman is unbearable and knowing the futures of the unfortunate grandchildren in Brigit gives the play unbelievable profundity. An extraordinary play that is refreshing in its stylistic break from tradition.
Bailegangaire was performed 30 years ago with the late Siobhan McKenna in the lead role. This play is counted as Murphy’s crowning acheivement and he specifically wrote the role for McKenna. Big boots to fill but Mullen is the perfect choice. Her unbelievable skill as an actor consumes you and you are left weak and exhausted afterwards but Catherine Walsh as Mary and Aisling O’Sullivan as Dolly are so honest and tender it’s impossible to distinguish who is better. This triumfeminate blend with each other and offer a truly powerful theatrical experience. I left the theatre with the overarching feeling that I had witnessed something incredibly important that will never happen again. Brigit & Bailegangaire finish on 05 October but see it if you can. You will not be disappointed.