One of the pitfalls of a patriarchal society is that male victims of abuse are reluctant to speak out. Amongst many gender clichés, they are expected to “man-up” and deal with their own issues without seeking help, even more so when the perpetrator belongs to “the fairer sex”. Currently, this is thought to be one of the main causes of the soaring suicide rates amongst young males in Britain and Ireland.
Ronan Dempsey’s The Words Are There addresses this issue with a tense physical drama, in which the main character Mick has a speech impediment, symbolising his inability to talk about his girlfriend Trish’s wrongdoings. For this reason, he remains almost silent throughout. Instead we hear his voice in snippets of recorded conversation, whilst on stage his body shivers, cripples and crumbles under the burden of his ordeal.
On the contrary, Trish never appears on stage in her human form. When we enter the auditorium, her name is written on the floor with strips of toilet roll, whilst her voice resounds in several scenes – first tender, then annoyed and finally downright slanderous. Gradually, Mick puts together her makeshift body by collecting everyday objects from the floor, as if to mould the idealised partner he yearns for. A mop becomes her main frame, with its bundle of strings gently brushed and styled by a caring lover.
They first met on a night out, when she had too much to drink and he helped her to find her way home. “You’re adorable with your little stutter”, we hear her saying. But their affections begin to falter, his kindness fading to insecurity and her repressed trauma becoming motive for abuse. “Stuttering bastard!” she shouts at him during one of her recurrent flare of rage. As things turn sour, Mick is devoured by growing anxieties, whilst she often loses control, until finally their relationship reaches the tipping point.
Owning the stage, Dempsey embodies this transition and the pressing subject matter with compelling physical mastery, building a blistering drama with only his body and a few props. Entirely absorbed in his character, he delivers an unforgettable performance.
Written, Directed and Performed By: Ronan Dempsey
Producer: Nth Degree Producton
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/words-are-there
Booking Until: 24 August 2019