Following on from the success of their previous shows at DTF, Pan Pan‘s Newcastlewest takes a subversive look at loneliness and meaning in rural Ireland. The play centres around Marya (inspired in part by Princess Marya of War and Peace) a young woman, not getting any younger and going nowhere.
She lives with her repulsively gruff father (played by Des Nealon) and after dropping out of college and spending her subsequent years unemployed, she is at a crossroads, wondering whether to stay with her elderly dad or to leave and get a job. She sings to her dead mother throughout the play, accompanied by an iPhone, its delivery a treat – both deadpan and bizarre.
Annabell Rickerby as Marya is incredibly watchable, reaming off colloquial, comfortable dialogue in a monotone that strips away its original meaning and makes the words into a song themselves (iPhone accompaniment or no).
There are some disturbing and invigorating moments and Dick Walsh’s script moves from comedy to drama, always impossible to pin down. To define the script, one could call it a kitchen sink drama, but the joy in this production is its liquid form – Newcastlewest refuses to be about a family in a house, more about the feelings of a family in a house (they are manipulated by red-clad women, always present on the stage).
With this type of deconstructionist work, however, everyone and everything must commit to the tone. The way in which the script was delivered felt less than precise in some moments (talking over each other just felt like a mistake in such a specific show). I suspect that to tighten up these moments would lead to a very consistent show.