Theatrical: ‘The Visit’ by Deirdre Kinahan at the Draiocht

Likewise with the ‘Once before I go’ show at the Gate Theatre. That show was announced and tickets went on sale, when capacity was only 20%. Understandably tickets were massively priced at 46.50eur per seat – necessary to recoup costs when audiences would be so limited. However when the rules changed and audiences could buy 60% of the seats, the prices remained at their exalted levels. It’s quite cheeky to charge prices in line with a West End debut. I would like to see that play – having seen Philip McMahon’s previous plays ‘Town is dead’ and ‘Come on home’. I can’t afford to pay that amount of money though. Calculations may have been made I suppose – smaller audiences paying huge prices will be more profitable than a large audience paying a reasonable price, and that’s how the business works. It’s a pity though.

I expect that the writers and directors have little input into the pricing of tickets – do the venues and organising festivals decide what the audience will tolerate?

I settled into my correctly priced 20 euro seat at the Draiocht and waited for the action to begin. Deirdre Kinahan has an impressive body of work already produced. Having seen her Abbey Theatre productions of ‘Rathmines Road’ and ‘The unmanageable sisters’ (link here), I was anticipating good things.

The stage is designed like a desert in the Wild West, with cactus plants and sand columns across the stage. Enter Rose, laden down with bags. Rose addresses the audience directly, and seems an affable, pleasant person. What follows is quite a rollercoaster. She is in the theatre early, for some extra rehearsal for her debut performance with her country and western choir. Having been widowed two years earlier, she joined the choir on the recommendation of her sister shortly after her husband had died of a heart attack. Slowly her story reveals itself, as she reveals the years of torment, abuse and coercive control he had exerted over her, and their two (now adult) sons throughout the marriage. At least he regularly went on weekend fishing trips and business trips abroad. Or did he? Perhaps the mysterious man who visited her that morning might reveal some secrets.

Mary O’Driscoll gives an incredible performance as Rose, convincingly portraying a woman ground down by years of emotional abuse, all the while making self-deprecating excuses for her husband, and excusing his behaviour. Slowly her torment is distractedly revealed. Rose is recovering though, and the play ultimately is one of hope as she prepares for her stage debut with her choir.

Directed by Veronica Coburn, ‘The Visit’ runs until Saturday. Recommended.

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