Sarah has been the lone carer of her mother for a number of years. Unlike other stories of this kind, Sarah in her early twenties, reading books at night to Marie, whose motor and cognitive functions are all but gone, and with death on the way, Sarah calls her two brothers, Butler, a musician and artist, and MJ, a successful accountant, while not visiting has bankrolled the care of his mother. Like all family dramas, there are many sticking points, and in Joe O’Neill’s script there are also moments of lightness and comedy.
The device of the imminent death of their mother to bring them together is a well used idea, and still works well here. Marie of the title, on stage from the moment the audience walk in, takes a turn when Sarah arrives home. With the Doctor called, a family friend, it is clear that her final days are approaching. With the arrival of the brothers, talk of their lives, relationships with each other, their mother and estranged Father emerges through the first half, which is divided into two acts, the third following the interval. Throughout, despite the premise, there is much comedy which helps keep the pace going and the story moving.
It is in the comedy that the play really shines, with some good lines and moments emerging, that Adam Tryell’s Butler makes the most of, alongside the broody MJ, played by O’Neill as well, and Danii Byrne’s Sarah, who acts more like a mother figure, sitting the two male siblings down and leaving them to sort their differences out. There is also the character of Tom, a strange, awkward individual played up for laughs by Sean Sheppard, making you wonder if he is really that thick, or is it because he has a thing for Sarah and is very nervous. It is strange that this man is studying to be a vet. After his appearance, and is used as the route for Sarah to talk of Marie’s past life, he is never seen again, though.
It does have its moments, and two directors, but the direction seems as awkward as Tom at times, never fully connecting with the work itself, or in some cases the characters. Then there are small details, like cups of tea looking like they have nothing in them, while characters sip away. It gives it all an uneven feel, which is a pity after a bright first half, countering the tone of the second which is somewhat different, as well as in approach.
In all, it is an entertaining play, that doesn’t lag and keeps moving forward, showing promise for both the writer and the company, although perhaps let down a little in terms of direction. In all, the highlights are the comedy that keeps it moving along.

Runs until 6th June 2015

Writer: Joe O’Neill
Cast: Marie – Debbie Hart; Sarah – Danii Bryne; Dr O’Connor – David O’Neill; Butler – Adam Tyrell; MJ – Joe O’Neill; Tom – Sean Sheppard
Directors: Robbie O’Raw & Joe O’Neill
Lighting: John Dooley
Sound: Paul Mahady
Production Company: Little Shadow Theatre Company
Photo courtesy of The Civic

~ reviewed by Alan Foran of Red Curtain Review