Review by Carmel Shortall
In Life, Amy De Bhrun tells the story of Grainne, a young woman who leaves small town Ireland to come to London in search of the Sex and the City lifestyle – or at least something more than the lifestyle of her parents.
Through poetry and monologue; song and mime she relates the story of Grainne’s three years in the capital. We experience her search for love and her toxic relationships. She describes her realisation that she has become a needy ‘lady-monster’ rather than one of the ‘goddesses’ she dreamed of.
She works in a bank while she is afraid to showcase her own songs at ‘open mic’ nights and gradually, filled with bitterness and believing “my life was harder than anybody else’s”, she sinks into depression.
Dressed in a red and black ‘split personality’ costume to mirror her ‘other self’, as well as the significance of the ladybird, De Bhrun skilfully jumps between different aspects of Grainne’s character to tell her story while still engaging with the audience. Her clear voice rings out as she sings, ‘If I’, (with lyrics by Bairbre Munnis) while she contemplates her future.
It is only when a ladybird lands on her, crawling to the end of her outstretched hand before flying effortlessly away, that she realises her fate is in her own hands: “Jump to your freedom and the net will appear.”
Staging and props are kept to a minimum – but good use is made of a red step stool which transforms into whatever is needed and the stage fills with crumpled paper as Amy tries to write a song. Lighting is sympathetic and direction is fluid. The members of Solas: Director Helena Browne and Producer/Stage Manager, Libby Edwards, have been working together for years and it shows in the professionalism of this otherwise simple production.
Life played at the Roundhouse: Studio Theatre on the 8th and the 9th August, 2011 and also enjoyed a successful run in Dublin just before The Camden Fringe.