Seanmhair

An electric new play on the dangerous immediacy of falling in love

★★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Seanmhair
Published 14 Aug 2017

Jenny quietly talks of caring for her husband Tommy after bowel cancer has turned him into a fragile, bird-like man. She lovingly prepares his vegan meals whilst mocking their ridiculousness, and sponge baths his paper-thin skin. As he sits in their garden and she works in the house, she remembers their decades together. But this isn't a gentle, reflective play about a mundane relationship. It's a cable downed in a hurricane, thrashing and sparking in the wet and windy street.

Jenny and Tommy's love begins on Edinburgh's cobbled streets when they were ten years old. The immediacy of the connection between the prep school girl and the boy that gave up on education to work down on the Leith docks is dangerous, volatile and unbreakable. They fall in love before they know what love is, and their ignorance has huge consequences they can't even begin to understand.

Hywel John's non-linear script of rapid fire scenes juxtaposes the present and the past with three actors all playing Jenny. They also take on the other characters that appear: Tommy, his mum, Jenny's parents, and her beloved Seanmhair, Scots Gaelic for "grandmother". Jo Freer, Sian Howard, and Molly Vevers all possess a laser-like immediacy that drives the story forward with relentless passion and need.

Though more definitive resolutions to some of the subplots are needed and the all-white cast is unnecessary, there's little else to fault here. Seanmhair is an exciting, volatile new play deserving of wider audiences.