Kat Woods' Killymuck paints a futile, bleak picture of life on the Killymuck estate in the 1970s, as the class system becomes ever wider. Sound familiar? Maybe nothing much has changed. Daniel Perks reviews

Born into an unequal society, where money affords opportunity, Niamh (Aoife Lennon) grows up on the Killymuck estate in 1970s Ireland. Maggie Thatcher promises the earth to the working class before unceremoniously wrenching it from under their feet. And those deemed ‘misfits’ by the council are put in this one location to rot or riot.

Kat Woods’ script is full of observational detail, delivered with honest intensity and fierce energy by Lennon. The story of her upbringing is presented as a one-woman lecture, more a a socio-political manifesto than a narrative or a tale. But there are comedy titbits thrown in to this piece, along with the looming menace of a violent father and a timid mother.

School days bring the usual issues – jokes, longings to grow up and mischiefs successfully managed. Lennon cuts from story to anthropological opinion all too often and it interrupts the overall flow of the tale. But where else should those little memories go, if not to inform her overall picture of the status quo as it stands?

Woods’ words ring true in the extent to which horrific events are normalised within Killymuck – suicides happen one morning, funerals at lunchtime and back to school that afternoon. It’s all a message of the disposable nature of human life – violence is commonplace, taunting is to be ignored and even the things that you care about the most are barely worth a second thought. Woods crafts characters to be fundamentally unlikeable, even though they are begrudgingly loveable. That’s the futility of how it is.

But Killymuck runs into difficulties with its conclusion. Several meta-theatrical attempts at ending the play prove unsuccessful and undermine what is a strong performance by Lennon. The pace becomes unstable, pushing forward too quickly for events to be appreciated after the sluggish nature of the preceding scenes.

As a picture of a cynical reality, Killymuck highlights the difficulties faced in the 1970s and brings into sharp focus the question of what has really changed since then. It makes for heavy viewing but is crystal clear in delivering its socio-political message.

 

 

★★★☆☆

Killymuck runs at Underbelly McEwan Hall as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 until 27 August 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.