The Pavillion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire was my destination last night, to see ‘Forgotten’ – the one-man show written by and starring Pat Kinevane. Through the media of Japanese kabuki theatre and Irish storytelling. Kinevane tells the interlinked tales of four geriatrics living in care homes (or ‘assisted living facilities’ as they are so euphemistically described by Americans) in Ireland.
Kabuki is a theatre form involving singing and dancing. Irish storytelling traditions are self-explanatory to audiences here.
Appearing onstage in a Japanese style costume, on a darkened stage, to the sound of threatening music, Kinevane dances between set pieces on the stage, as he moves between the characters. Telling the tales of two male and two female characters, and the rich tapestries of their lives, before they ended up here – a geriatric home in the arse end of Limerick. The forgotten people. The people that built the nation whiling away their final years locked in a system of utter cruelty. Physical cruelty, as their bodies and minds start to fail them – Alzheimers or stroke paralysis; or mental cruelty as they are denied dignity and respect by the nurses and the society they live in.
Strangely though, it is hilariously funny in many places. Eighty-nine year old Eucharia – who takes the free train to Dublin every Saturday to catch glimpse of her glamourous daughter who she’d given up for adoption more than half a century earlier – tells a hilarious tale of a sturdy, farmer’s wife up in Arnotts on December 8th, squeezes herself into a wildly inappropriate outfit, merely because it is fashionable. To Flor (and old paramour of Eucharia) who imagines himself on the Late Late Show.
Far more seriously, it tells the tragic story of how Ireland’s health system and care is failing our old people – some of whom are being left to die on trolleys in hospital corridors. This is especially sinister as our Prime Minister is a doctor – but one that seems to view people solely in terms of how much money they can make to assist in paying off private banking debt. A psychopath in other words.
Kinevane is mesmerising, prowling the stage as each character, engaging with the audience in places to draw us into this tale of the forgotten people, and to sting us and tickle us with stories of how rich and varied their lives have been.
‘Forgotten’ was the first play in the Kinevane solo trilogy. Written in 2006, it was followed in 2011 by ‘Silent’ (which I saw before Christmas in 2016 – read about it HERE).
The final part of the trilogy (all of which deal with isolated people, living in the margins of our society) is ‘Underneath’. It is coming to the Pavilion on May 22nd.
Based on how heartbreakingly, brilliant ‘Forgotten’ and ‘Silent’ are then I simply have no choice but to complete the trilogy.