• Chris O'Rourke

Dinner in Mulberry Street


Kieran Roche, Ashleigh Dorrell and Fabiano Roggio in Dinner in Mulberry Street. Image Avril Kennan

***

There's lots of reasons why we shouldn't eat mince pies. Calories, cholesterol, an excess of sugar. All that fat and diary in those deep dollops of cream. Yet every year we revive them knowing Christmas wouldn't be the same. Another revival looking to become a seasonal staple is Michael James Ford's delightful Dinner in Mulberry Street, adapted from an original story by Fitz-James O'Brien. Like the seasonal mince pie, Bewleys Café Theatre's Christmas play doesn't make for a sumptuous meal. Yet it still delivers an extremely tasty experience.


One in which dreamers dream dreams, even as dreams don't put food on the table. Agnes, a former woman of substance, has fallen on hard times for the love of her husband, Dick. A good man with a good heart but no job. From their tenement hovel they dream of food, what was, and what might yet be. And of how much they might get for a book Dick is refusing to pawn for sentimental reasons. The selling of which might prove to be the solution to all their problems.


Suggesting an Americanised Dickens, Ford's adaptation is tense and taut, built on directness and economy. Rich in detail, it's unafraid to go dark places. Much of which director Bairbhe Ní Chaoimh deliberately leaves untapped. Not so much directing as changing gear occassionally to insure things stay on track. Talk of suicide, sounding odd for being delivered in a throwaway style, suggests nothing at stake. Depths avoided lest any sharp edges puncture its Irelands Own candlelit sadness. Its three strong cast of Ashleigh Dorrell, Kieran Roche, and Fabino Roggio showing they have much more to offer. With Martin Cahill's smart set and Rowena Cunningham's captivating costumes showing they, too, are well up to the task of being braver. Making Dinner in Mulberry Street a theatrical mince pie, and a tasty one too, even as there's a stronger meal here to be had.


Dinner in Mulberry Street, adapted by Michael James Ford from an original story by Fitz-James O'Brien, runs at Bewleys Café Theatre until December 24th


For more information, visit Bewleys Café Theatre


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