Following a very successful run in the Abbey Theatre, Elaine Murphy’s Shush comes to the Civic Theatre, Tallaght. It’s with very good reason that this wonderful production has been captivating audiences and I was to find out why on its opening night in the Civic Theatre.
The play opens by introducing us to Breda, a 50-something, attempting to ignore her birthday with a box of Ferrero Rocher on the sofa. A persistent ringing of the door-bell introduces friends Irene and Marie, with Marie’s daughter Claire in tow, with a very different idea of how Breda should be celebrating her birthday. Namely a bottle of Bacardi. Neighbour Ursula – the woman who apparently has it all – appears at the back door, Cava in hand, to complete this motley crew.
The all-female ensemble cast are a joy to watch; Barbara Brennan and Eva Bartley’s mother/daughter exchanges are particularly enjoyable, while Ruth Hegarty as Irene overcomes her character’s initial limited role as comic relief to stand out in the play’s most affecting scene.
Murphy’s play is wonderfully written; sharp and caustic in the way a woman scorned can often be, but also warm and intimate, inviting the audience in to a familiar setting of female friendship and fierce loyalty.
The play also owes as much to its excellent set design; the ramshackle depiction of Breda’s home acting as a metaphor for the disintegration of her personal life.
Shush is painfully funny, eliciting raucous laughter from an audience rapt from the opening minutes. As the play comes to a moving conclusion and an extremely vocal audience show their approval, these five women feel just like old friends.
~ reviewed by Cara Groome Travers