by Brian Friel.
The Print Room 34 Hereford Road Notting Hill W2 5AJ To 27 April 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm
Touch Tour 27 Apr 2.30pm.
Post-show Talks Tue.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7221 6036.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 April.
Quality account of thoughtful, and skilfully-structured play.
This 1994 drama isn’t the only play where Brian Friel uses interlinking monologues to tell a story; and it’s not rare for him to use retrospective comments to cast a melancholy atmosphere over events. The monologue structure is apposite here, as three people are brought together by an operation to restore Molly’s eyesight, lost in early infancy. Each is a different type of person; each has their own agenda in events: they come together yet are separate.
For husband Frank the eye-operation is latest in a series of well-intentioned, hopeless projects. For Rice, the surgeon it’s a chance to reverse personal and professional decline in a once-promising career.
They straddle the stage in Abigail Graham’s revival, Rice seated, Frank often standing around, Molly central, freest of the three as she swings or climbs a tree, backed by slate-grey landscapes in Signe Beckmann’s set.
Molly happily identifies things by a sequence of senses, whereas sighted people take in their environment at once. She describes exploring her garden; this, with her father being a judge, creates enough similarity for contrast with John Mortimer’s 1971 A Voyage Round My Father, an autobiographical recollection play set in a garden, about a barrister father blinded in adulthood. Mortimer elucidates the parent/son relationship and a refusal to accept defeat in sightlessness. Friel had undergone cataract surgery soon before writing Molly, but presents the reverse polarity from Mortimer.
For Molly, not-seeing is its own freedom, the journey into sight traumatic in demanding adjustment to alien ways of perception and understanding; sight for her is as negative as sightlessness for Mortimer senior.
Both men respond to Molly’s joy, caught by Dorothy Duffy in a sense of freedom, as it was by an energetic Cara Kelly in Gregory Thompson’s 2005 Glasgow Citizens’ revival, later toured by National Theatre Scotland. Ruari Conaghan portrays Frank’s ever-changing enthusiasm with an anger that contrasts Michael Glenn Murphy’s keen willingness in the Scottish production. However, Stuart Graham is clear-etched in Rice’s surrender to defeat after Molly’s operation. She is a vital character, but also the blind woman through whom others come to see themselves.
Molly: Dorothy Duffy.
Frank: Ruari Conaghan.
Mr Rice: Stuart Graham.
Director: Abigail Graham.
Designer: Signe Beckmann.
Lighting: Chahine Yavroyan.
Sound/Composer: Ed Lewis.
Movement: Anna Morrissey.
Voice/Dialect coach: Tim Charrington.
Assistant director: Jane Moriarty.