If like me you find an
Irish accent a wondrous tool capable, in a single crank, of spinning the very
stars in the gutter, and if, like me also, you enjoy nothing better than a bit
of virtuoso story-telling, then you’re going to love
her performance is more than lyricism and funny voices
Actress Camille Lucy Ross tells Roberta’s tale - or rather Roberta tells her own, as she attempts to go it alone, having finally moved out of her destructive, boozy “Mammy’s” house. She’s tragically not ready for independence however and a furious leprechaun-like alter ego - Little Bobby - crumples her every hope. As isolation begins to get the upper hand, she is driven out onto the streets of her small town and into an odyssey of threat and shame that even enshrouds her trip to the shop or the pub. Eventually defeated, she finds herself back in the maternal vortex. The sheer exhaustion of it is really well evoked.
Ross’s Roberta, clad cleverly in peach skinnies and a hefty Guernsey sweater, is two -or more- people struggling for primacy with every laboured breath. Yet, her performance is more than lyricism and funny voices. Physically, she is constantly transforming; as she hitches up the heavy corduroys of bear-like farmer and love interest Bernard; or throws a Fay Ray teapot pose to convey Mammy in full cry; she is building a visual vocabulary that, by the play’s climax, will allow her to hold two, three, or even more characters in the girth of her arms and voice. It’s a joy to behold.
Big Bobby, Little Bobby is a truthful play that doesn’t pull punches but it is also very funny, thereby joining the ranks of so much indelible Irish writing. There is also something of the resurgence of Irish cinema in its voice too, of which the McDonagh brothers -The Guard, In Bruges, Calvary etc.- are the standard bearers. I believe Camille Lucy Ross and writer Kelly Shatter will surely be claiming a share of the plaudits as their wave continues to roll.