Theatrical: ‘Rearing is sparing’ at the Axis

The play describes itself as a ‘love letter to the mothers of Dublin’s north inner city’ and is a brilliant showcase for the two leads. Karen Ardiff has long been my favourite stage actor. In recent years I have seen her in ‘Rathmines Road’; ‘The Alternative’; ‘Dublin will show you how’ and ‘The unmanageable sisters’. Her performances can be fierce, blistering and always completely convincing. In this play she plays Maria in a more low-key manner, as she grieves for her sons and how the inner city blues have affected their outcomes. Denise McCormack (who also appeared in ‘Dublin will show you how’ with both Ardiff and Kane Byrne, as well as ‘Dancing with the stars’), plays the more spiky character of Anita, nervously chain smoking throughout (those herbal cigarettes that stunk up the theatre). Her earlier life has been very tough. Both mothers love their son, regardless of what they have done. Anita sits with her big hair and shades, railing against what has happened to her and her family.

The script – like all Kane Byrne’s work – rolls at a breakneck speed. It’s very funny, unflinching, and engaging. The speed of the dialogue makes it occasionally difficult to follow the narrative in a linear manner – particularly at the points when each actor is narrating their tale simultaneously. This is a trick that might have worked in theory, but was a bit annoying and confusing in practice. To my delicate ears at least. It’s a minor quibble however as overall the script and performances sparkle.

Thommas Kane Byrne is a very fine writer, whose work is ably interpreted by Ardiff and McCormack. Directed by Jason Byrne ‘Rearing is sparing’ runs at the Axis until Saturday and streams online throughout next week. Recommended.

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