Fourth Wall Laois Theatre Group’s production of SIVE brings a contemporary credibility to J B Keane’s timeless tale of young love, materialism, family life, and women’s place in the world. Though set in the sixties, this carefully casted drama demonstrates that these enduring themes and contrasting emotions are as relevant today. Direction by David Corri is faithful to the tragic-comedy elements of the play and employs the rural background of the talented actors to fashion an authentic and memorable production.
Geraldine Moore’s Mena signature portrayal of a competent and successful woman who has brought a “fortune” and some business sense to the failing small hill farm is multi-dimensional. She motivates her “gomaral” of a husband but perceives his mother and niece to be impediments to their future happiness.
Joe Murphy as Mike Glavin, the husband, epitomises a conflicted man who “can’t be guided two roads at once”. His empathetic and nuanced performance dramatically outlines a steady decline in his mental health as the plot develops.
In Kevin Lalor-Fitzpatrick’s artful rendition of Thomasheen Séan Rua he demonstrates the malevolence and cuteness of a cunning matchmaker whose only object appears money, and yet he expresses genuine emotion as he bemoans his loneliness of being without a companion.
Stasia Kilroy as Sive brings an innocent brightness and light to the stage. Jamie Drury playing Liam Scuab displays passion and principle as a youth prepared to take on the world for Sive. The chemistry of young love sparks between the pair but there is a constant dampening of Sive’s spirit as her life spins out of control.
Vincent Hogan’s Seán Dóta is crucial to the plot and his portrayal of this “corpse of a man” is natural and unforced yet underscores the horror of the proposed match of a farmer old enough to be Sive’s grandfather.
Michelle O’Sullivan’s multi-faceted portrayal Nana, who dotes on her son Mike and Sive, but has a black hatred of Mena, is sensitive and balanced. She forewarns “There is a hatchery of sin in this house” and supports women in their trials with “How is it all men will find words to save themselves? Women must pay for all happiness.”
The travelling tinkers Pats Bocock by John Kavanagh, and Carthalawn by Coleman Young serve as essential and effective narrators through song and story. Kavanagh’s dignified portrayal a traveller is a celebration of human decency. Young’s melodious tones have the effect of a Greek chorus and provide a solemnity to the production.
The backstage crew of Catherine Scully and Eamonn Delaney with Stage Manager Noel Ryan ensure seamless continuity, while set design by Keith Mason, lighting by Lar Scully and sound by Eimear Corri provide the perfect backdrop to this masterly play.