This Is Paradise, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Kate is a 30-something woman in Belfast expecting her first child with her husband, Brendy. At the same time, Northern Ireland and its political parties have announced that peace is finally coming. Though Kate and her country should be looking forward, she is troubled by recurring abdominal pain and memories from her past that threaten the peace she has made for herself.

Over the course of the monologue by Michael John O’Neill, Kate embarks on a journey to check on her ex, Diver, after his current girlfriend called her to tell her he was missing. As she journeys to the desolate coastal town where she last saw Diver many years ago, she narrates her present day-to-day and recollections from her destructive time with Diver. Having met the older man when she was just 16, his predation had a terrible effect on her that she struggled to escape for years.

O’Neill uses a mix of vivid description and metaphor to convey Kate’s story and emotional state, but the transitions between the past and present are often swift and confusing. Whilst they clearly blur in Kate’s mind, it’s often difficult to follow. A judicious trim would benefit the piece both by making it shorter and streamlining the narrative. It could also do with a substantial dose of external conflict to balance the one in Kate’s head. Amy Molloy as Kate gives an engaging, raw performance but there’s only so much she can do to vary the text’s static rhythm.

Lulu Tam’s set consists of a hulking, grey slab riven with deep red cracks – a fitting metaphor for Kate’s life and the violence that shapes her city. It varies the production’s visuals, but it can only do so much to counter the lulling effect of the monotonous script.

This Is Paradise runs through 28 August.

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