Friday, 18 March 2016

The Mai - Monkgate Theatre, York

I was invited to see a preview of this production at York's Monkgate Theatre.  The Mai coincided with St Patrick's Day and York International Women Festival.

York Settlement Community Players presented Marina Carr's The Mai.  This Irish play explored issues that really mattered and addressed by four generations of women in one family.

Set in Ireland between 1979 and 1980 the women shared ambitions, hopes and goals in faceof reality, adversity, struggles and disappointments.  Millie (Beth Sharrock) narrated reflectively each of the characters' life journeys which began with her mother, The Mai (Beryl Nairn).  The Mai shared her love for a man who exactly hasn't been faithful and follwed by other women who wished 'If only' from missed opportunities and second changes.  All met at The Mai's house which she specially built for Robert (Damian Fynes), her estranged husband.

The narration and dialogues are enriched with poetic elements which are full of metaphors and Irish folklore, linking to the feelings of abandonment, regret, neglect, fate, pessimism and aligning with family traditions and cultural expections.

Act 1 slowly built up the experiences women share and this lead to explosive consequences in the second act.  It was felt however that the dialogues could have been more condensed and smoother less time consuming transitions between the scenes.  With the adult nature of The Mai strong language is used throughout and targeting audiences at 16+

First class performance from the cast who enthusiastically and sensitively portrayed the characters particularly Beryl Nairn (The Mai) and Elizabeth Elsworth (Grandma Fraochan). Mike Rogers' set reflect a quintessential house in the Irish countryside which is complemented with Graham Sanderson and Edward Dick's lighting.  Appropriately chosen Irish music and Dick's sounds represent the story's mood, the Irish culture and emotions.

York Settlement Community Players successfully have pulled together The Mai after the Director's long wait, a wait worthwhile.  The themes raised are no stranger to family generations particularly among women.

Playing until 19th March 2016 at York's Monkgate Theatre.

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