It’s been 17 years since Morag (Aedin Moloney) and her daughter Fiona (Barrie Kreinik) lived here, on the East Coast of Scotland. Seventeen years since the two were close, until Fiona did something that would unalterably change both their lives.
Her father having left when she was four, Fiona was raised by mam. The two are on holiday – man’s idea – hoping the distant 32 year-old might loosen up and talk. Morag is lonely. She badly wants a grandchild and presses the unattached Fiona who has no maternal yearning. “It’s not as if you had a career…”
Childhood best friend Vari (Zoe Watkins) still lives in the town, though now in a big house with a doctor husband and three children. Life placidly revolves around her kids. The women’s reunion sparks this memory play featuring expectation and sacrifice. We go episodically back and forth from childhood to current time.
Barrie Kreinik, Aedin Moloney
At 15, both ill-informed due to strict Catholicism, the girls grapple with sexuality. Fiona likes to “jig,” i.e. touch herself bouncing up and down. Mam puts a stop to that; it’s a sin and God will know. Her daughter’s a good girl. Vari, sure there is no God, not only feels free to experiment, but is aggressive about it. There are signs she might be gay.
“So it’s all right?” asks Fiona. “No, your husband will know,” retorts her friend confidently. When Vari lets a boy touch her inside while getting himself off, she tells her mother the stain is vanilla ice cream. (There are actual vanilla ice cream cones in several contemporary scenes.) Writing here is often vivid.
Zoe Watkins, Barrie Kreinik
At 32, Fiona finally asks about her dad. It seems her mam likes men, but not sex. Morag’s husband “…was like an elephant, so if he got it once every ten years…” In the next episode, we see Morag at a single, unmatronly 42. She’s in love. Fiona is jealous and resentful. Things compound when mam’s lover needs to move back to the Middle East. Feeling it’s her last chance at happiness, Morag wants to go and suggests leaving Fiona with Vari’s parents.
Her daughter simply will not have it. Enlisting the help of the feckless Ewan (Colby Howell)…
Colby Howell, Barrie Kreinik
Playwright Sharman Macdonald (Kiera Knightley’s mother) has insight into both Catholic influence and character changes under these challenging circumstances. Voices sound authentic at various ages. She is, however, somewhat verbose. The piece could successfully be cut.
Barrie Kreinik’s Fiona is the weak link. The actress does only a yeoman-like job. Zoe Watkins’s Vari exudes life force. Watkins has terrific stage presence, inhabiting her wry, resigned character with credibility and warmth. The piece revolves around Aedin Moloney’s strong, nuanced performance. Here we see thinking and feeling evolve before us. Also featuring a sympathetic Colby Howell as Ewan.
Director John Keating keeps period changes fluent and comprehensible, using his staging area with variation. Two-handers featuring the girls at 15 and Fiona and Ewan are particularly well manifest.
Dialect Coach Amanda Quaid does a splendid job. Paddy Maloney’s music is immensely evocative, if a bit loud.
Fallen Angels’ mission is to produce Irish and British plays written by and about women.
Photos by Carol Rosegg
Opening: Zoe Watkins, Aedin Moloney, Barrie Kreinik
Fallen Angel Theatre Company presents
When I Was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout by Sharman Macdonald
Directed by John Keating
Music Director/Composer – Paddy Maloney (The Chieftains)
The Clurman Theater
Theatre Row 410 West 42nd Street
Through May 8, 2016