Wearing a long white night gown, a young woman stands in the middle of the room. Her natural platinum locks streaming down her shoulders, onto her chest. Her dark, wide eyes stare at us as we sit in front of her. Can she see us or is she looking through us? Around her, small piles of crumpled white cloths are scattered on the floor. Amongst them, a metal bucket, a broom and a wooden chair.
She breaks the silence with the first verses of Dubliner Luke Kelly’s poem For what died the sons of Róisín. She acknowledges us and addresses us directly as we become part of the narrative. The atmosphere is eerie. Are we really in the room or have we become her phantasms? The ghosts from the past of all the people she’s no longer allowed to meet in person.
Fragments of her personal story work their way into her scrambled reflections. She talks about them in third person, but we know she’s referring to herself. She tells of a young girl, who’s contracted a mysterious illness. An illness from which she should have known better how to protect herself. An illness which has shame and regret as side effects. A growing disease that deforms the body and carries a sense of despair. We can feel it in the air, as she roams aimlessly and relentlessly within the four walls.
At times she’s frantic, at times resignation allows her some peace. Yet, we witness her sanity declining rapidly, as she goes over and over again the many evil things that have been said about her. The scornful accusations of those who argue her full responsibility for becoming ill. Melancholic melodies from Irish traditional songs offer her – and us – some needed respite, but this is just temporary.
Written and performed by Aoibh Johnson, The Daughters of Róisín is a heart-wrenching metaphorical drama. It’s a silent accusation at Irish society, with its Catholic backbone, for neglecting to look after its women, to pick them up when they’ve fallen. Watching it just once might not be enough to appreciate in full the complexity of its introspective journey.
Written and Performed by: Aoibh Johnson
Directed by: Cahal Clarke
Producer: Wee Yarn Productions
Booking Link: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/the-daughters-of-roisin-af2020
Booking Until: 7 March 2020