3 Stars

★★★ Class Struggle in Northern Ireland

Jasper Cunningham-Ward reviews KillyMuck at Edinburgh Fringe

Set on a council estate in Northern Ireland, KillyMuck tells the story of a Catholic girl called Niamh. This one-woman show deals with all the heavy issues that are expected from a story focused on growing up in Northern Ireland. Whilst the subject matter is rich, and the area underrepresented in the arts, certain moments in the script fell flat.

Niamh’s story is gripping and gut-wrenching. A child painfully aware of growing up poor, she talks of the everyday injustices she faces in the school system and on her estate. The character is believable and fleshed out. What is confusing is the asides that start early on in the play and reappear throughout. At various points, Aoife approaches the mic and speaks about why a moment has been, included, what it is meant to highlight, or even how the issues the play deals with should be approached. It is unclear whether these moments are in character or not. They come across as forced didacticisms that break the momentum of the performance each time. All the points made in these moments are already there in the performance, they do not need to be spelt out for the audience.

Aoife Lennon is extremely talented; her delivery and ability to switch between characters whilst telling an engaging story is astonishing. Watching her switch between Niamh and her alcoholic, abusive father is both terrifying and amazing. With a limited stage design, she is able to believably transform a box into anything she needs it to be. All this she does alone, with a little help from the lighting crew. It is certainly not in her that the production doesn’t live up to its potential and it is a shame parts of the script let her down.

Overall, the production is both entertaining and informative. It is an interesting insight into a part of the world that is less often explored, despite its close proximity. The facts about high suicide rates in Northern Ireland and a reminder that abortion rights are still stuck in the past bring the story to life in a horrifying way. The message of the play was well received, but a little more trust in the audience to pick up on the nuances of the script would perhaps make the production feel more polished.

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