Exile

Exile at the Southwark Playhouse, by JoMac Productions Limited & Blue Heart Theatre, is an interestingly constructed piece consisting of two life-crisis monologues by individuals whose lives tangentially cross, creating an overlapping storyline towards the end of their respective tales.

There are few surprises at all in two accounts of experiences that are not uncommon

The play was written by Niamh Denyer, who also plays Donna. The year is 2016. Abortion is illegal in Ireland and the penalties for breaking the law are harsh. Unexpectedly finding herself pregnant from a one-night stand she seeks the popular solution of taking a day-return flight to London and a visit to the Marie Stopes clinic for a termination. She entrusts her secret to her friend but deciding what to do with her mother raises the whole vexed history of the abortion debate in the Republic and family ties.

In stark contrast, Darren (Sammy Johnson) is overjoyed with his wife’s pregnancy and the prospect of becoming a father for the first time. However, he has his own difficulty to confront. At school he had been infatuated with a boy he once kissed. They went their own ways: the boy declared his sexuality and became a success in the city; Darren remained in the closet, married and became a taxi driver. A chance cab booking reunites them and creates emotional mayhem for Darren.

It’s another taxi ride that brings the two stories together after Donna’s flight lands. Having already heard Darren’s story in full, this comes as no surprise once we know of her plans. Indeed, there are few surprises at all in two accounts of experiences that are not uncommon. Johnson relates his story with some humour and rattles through events and the various emotional responses they elicit in the style that Darren developed in order to fit in with the macho society that surrounds him. Following on, Denyer ups the laughter and energy giving the feeling her performance might turn into a one-woman comedy stand, but she appropriately lowers the tempo and eases off the wit when dealing with the serious matters that Donna has to confront.

The piece finishes neatly and perhaps a little abruptly with a sense of, ‘Is that it?' and ‘So what?’

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Performances

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The Blurb

It’s 2016. Donna’s life is thrown into disarray when she discovers she’s pregnant, forcing her to make a secret journey from her home in Ireland to get the help she needs. Darren drives a taxi in London, is married to Lesley, and has a baby on the way, but a chance encounter brings the secrets of his past hurtling into the present.

Set against the backdrop of the criminalization of abortion that was a reality in Ireland just three years ago, Exile examines the idea of home and identity and the choices one must make when the two collide.

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