Saturday, March 16, 2019

Natural Disaster – a personal and powerful tribute to love, death, grief and remembering (Tinderbox at The MAC until 16 March)

When the different elements of a theatre production come together and integrate, supporting and enhancing each other, the synergy can create something very special. And so it is with Natural Disaster, written and performed by Róisín Gallagher.

Wearing a sombre but floaty dress and high heels, a woman walks outside and into a shed. It contains familiar items, but is even more full of memories of her father who has terminal cancer. The rain pelts down and the wind howls. Or is that just the sound of her crushing emotions which cause her heart to ache and her body to wretch? If only she could snuggle in once more to the strong chest of her dad whose stage four cancer was indeed terminal.

So much of this story is told so clearly without words. There’s the urgent sense of not wanting to forget, clinging onto the comfort of precious memories in case they fade. Gallagher’s whole body encapsulates the grief and pain that she bears. Her skill as an actor is obvious, so watchable, so incredibly expressive. In fact, a static video of the show would work well as an art installation in one of The MAC’s enclosed gallery spaces.

Isaac Gibson has created an incredible overwhelming sensory sound design that amplifies the emotions we see on stage. Ciarán Bagnall’s wonky shed set with its bench, pots and soil is small yet chunky. The soundscape gives it heft and makes it into a cathedral of anguish and the past. If you didn’t know the premise of the piece, after fifteen minutes you might think you were in some kind of horror show.

Patrick J O’Reilly’s direction adds physicality and the confidence to let moments linger until they hurt. Bagnall’s lighting tracks the mood and weather and finishes with a beautifully-spotlight moment of tribute. The banal conversations at a wake trigger laughter in some parts of the audience. A recording of words spoken by the dying man bring tears as well as warmth to the whole theatre. The journey of loss is unique. But the sense of loss is palpable and universal.

Gallagher’s presence and movement has the intensity of her titular role in Lally the Scut. Yet this story is her own. This man is her father. Natural Disaster is a remarkably personal and powerful tribute to love, death, grief and remembering. Fifty minutes of powerful storytelling that is beautifully performed and resists all unnecessary words.

Natural Disaster continues at The MAC with matinee and evening performances on Saturday 16 March at 3pm and 8pm.

Photo credit: Ciaran Bagnall

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is a truly poinent and powerful play. Heartbreaking but very carthortic and relatig to every persons personal grief. Enthralling for the 50 mins. Well done Roisin