With the Dublin Fringe Festival come to a close, Sorcha Doyle reviews ‘Sick’, telling the story of the strain of serious illness within a family

As a part of Dublin Fringe Festival, Crude Mechanics presented their new play ‘Sick’. Telling the story of serious illness within the family, the play is a raw and painful portrayal of the strain associated with caring for a family member.

Orla has cared for her sick mother Ruth for some years now, as she battles Alzheimer’s disease. Ruth is by no means an easy woman to live with. She is suspicious of Orla’s lover Gerry, who does what he can to help the family by delivering groceries and bringing sweet treats for Ruth. However, Gerry’s favours are not appreciated by Ruth, and as her paranoia grows, it drives a wedge between herself and her daughter whose patience is wearing thin.

The story takes an unusual twist and forces the viewer to consider an unsettling point of view of illness, and the effect this can have on a family. The script itself was humorous, fantastical and clever, yet there was something missing in the resolution of the play. The stage was small and allowed for an intimate performance but the transitions from scene to scene were sometimes distracting from the drama of the previous moment.

The theatre itself is a quaint and charismatic venue, and the lighting and sound effects were extremely well-done and successfully added to the heavy atmosphere. The costume choice for each character made the personalities of Orla, Ruth, Gerry and Angela extremely accessible to the average person.

The director of the play, Aoife Spillane-Hinks laid out this story well and has an impressive theatrical history under her belt. The actors Áine Ní Laoighre and Jennifer O’Dea, both Trinity College graduates did an impressive job delivering their roles, but it was the performances of Deidre Monaghan and Sam McGovern that were the most interesting. Deidre delivered a painfully accurate portrayal of Alzheimer’s and truly embodied the debilitating disease. Sam McGovern, a UCD graduate also delivered an impressive performance, balancing severity and humour in an interesting and unorthodox way.

‘Sick’ is an exciting new experience in Irish writing and performance, and succeeds in forcing the viewer to examine a difficult concept. While well acted and written, it is not the most accessible of plays, and would perhaps be appreciated most by viewers with a particular interest in Irish theatre.  Although ‘Sick’ is not perfect, it is still an enjoyable piece of Irish art.