Theatrical: ‘Purple snowflakes and titty wanks’ at the Peacock Theatre

The pace of the play is speedy, as Saoirse’s life lurches from one challenge to another as she struggles to steer the direction of her life. Hanly is a gifted actress, playing the character of Saoirse as both likable and relatable. She has good comic timing, and plays the darker scenes – as Saoirse’s life unravels in London – with a convincing empathy.

There are problems with the play I found. The struggle of teenage girls in school, dealing with the pressures to conform, and the pressure of living in a sexist society is real. This play over-emphasised the malign influence of the Catholic Church however. We can all accept that the church casts a dark shadow over the nation’s psyche, but surely this has changed in the past quarter of a century. It’s far fetched to believe that Saoirse’s father would abandon his family to join a monastery; that her mother would then start cohabiting with a priest; that her sister would join a convent; and that the penguins (nuns) are still roaming the corridors of secondary schools, terrorising their young pupils. This play is set in present times, not 1955. This lent an air of incredulity to the piece. It’s been many years since a scenario like this has played out, even in Catholic Ireland.

The title of the play is a bit try-hard as well. All words in the title are referenced in the play, but I got a slight vibe that the title was chosen for its shock value – a trick I have seen in theatre before – most memorably in a drab drama I went to see, which had a naked woman emerging from a shower on the cover poster, which has zero relevant to anything that was performed on stage.

Luckily Sarah Hanly was able to lift my reservations with her impressive performance. The sudden lighting changes also added atmosphere to the piece changing the mood in a flash when needed.

Overall it’s an enjoyable show from a promising playwright and accomplished actor. I suspect her future is bright.

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