Dublin Fringe Festival 2022: The Spin
Aisling Kearns in The Spin. Image Rich Gilligan
Of the important functions a Fringe Festival serves, offering debutantes a space to showcase their work is arguably the most important. Particularly in Dublin now Scene and Heard has shamefully lost its funding. Yet debut writers at festivals risk showcasing work that isn’t quite ready yet. Such as the labour of love which is The Spin. The debut play by Eimear Reilly which, despite some commendable ambitions, doesn’t come together in this flawed production.
Set in real time, its simple if strained format is a fifty-five minute counselling session. The jittery Joanna sitting at the opposite end of an improbably long room from the ocean of calm, Fiona. Aside from one walk-off by Fiona and a momentary stand-up by Joanna, it soon becomes visually dull. Joanna always sitting nervously on the edge of her seat, something the audience never do. Fiona sunk deep into hers with never the twain meeting. Like a lifeless episode of In Treatment, Joanna vents about a party, a dead child, her mother, some photographs, a boyfriend who dumped her after four years and the problems of trying to find somewhere to live when realtors want 95% of your salary and the blood of your firstborn just to view a place. And so it goes on, and goes nowhere slow. Forty-five minutes in and an attempted denouement makes a mad dash for the finish line, but falls again at the final hurdle. The end apt to leave you as confused and unclear as when you began, only less likely to care.
Why director Pat Kiernan lined the audience either side of Michael Hurley's makeshift traverse is anyone's guess. It doesn't bring them closer, rather the forced, elongated distance between Joanna and Fiona proves distracting and artificial, likely to induce whiplash looking between both. Thankfully avoided by Anna Healy's wise Fiona having precious little to say or do, but doing it well, knowing presence is the secret here and oozing it. Leaving the focus, and burden, on Aisling Kearn's shoulders. Kearns looking edgy and pent up, trapped in her chair, delivering what is basically a monologue with timed interruptions. Like a soprano sustaining too many high notes, Kearns plateaus early into emotional white noise sustained at too high a pitch. With no real nuance, nowhere to go but down, forced to act with the equivalent of one hand tied behind her back, Kearns could have expected more support from her director. She clearly has much more to offer, with the CV to prove it.
Lacking action, reaction, drama, conflict, something at stake or something being risked, Reilly's heavy going script serves up endless venting on the way to the most modest of endings. Indeed, given what Joanna gets in return, she would be perfectly within her rights to demand a refund from Fiona. Mind you, given Joanna's rants, Fiona might feel she should have charged more. Novelistic in style, particularly description, Reilly can turn a snappy phrase and make smart observations. But they often get lost in The Spin for being over-written, over-acted and under-directed. You never enjoy writing difficult reviews about a debut playwright. You can only hope they'll be taken as they were written: in the spirit of critical feedback. Reilly deserves to be accorded that respect at least; The Spin shows she has the makings of something.
The Spin, by Eimear Reilly, presented by Corcadorca Theatre Company in association with Backstage Theatre, Longford, runs as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2022 at Project Arts Centre until September 24.
For more information visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2022