Fringe 2016: Coast

Four individuals are stranded at the shore, staring into their own depths of despair, reflecting upon the troubles that have driven them to the edge.

In Coast, each character shares the most intimate thoughts of their troubled self, and each tale holds its own place within this narrative of fear and frustration. Coast, however, is clearly not a collection of individual confessions; cleverly connected by playwright and director Tracy Martin, the interwoven tales prevent the plot becoming one of separate strands or loose ends.

Supportive of the exceeding care with which Martin has crafted Coast, is the cast’s execution of the interspersed monologues. At intervals, the actors show their sorrow, ranging from frantic distress to dull despair. With an exacting subtlety in his portrayal of physical suffering, Donncha O’Dea makes it clear that Gerry cares more for companionship than he will ever dare to admit. Camille Lucy Ross shows how caretaker Carol borders on mania in her attempt to stop her mother’s dementia from destroying them, and the soaring anxiety in Ann Marie’s search for prescription pills is portrayed with a frightful immediacy by Aoibhéann McCann. The last outcast, young Karl, is played by Gordon Quigley, who, like his colleagues, possesses the unique skill of speeding and slowing his movement whenever needed, always perfectly aligning his position. Like the entire ensemble, Quigley also offers a remarkably approachable perspective to a character whose actions cannot always be condoned, but still evokes sympathy in their quest for an absolute annihilation of anything.

The cast is, truly, an ensemble; evidently well trained and guided by Tracy Martin and assistant director John Dennehy. The perfect punctuality of their audible and visible interaction make the complex construction of Coast seem deceptively simple. The topics addressed by this Red Bear Production are issues faced by those within our contemporary Irish society, making Coast stand out from any other must-see.

Mieke O’Brien

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