The third play in Oran Mor's Autumn/Winter Season is a breath of fresh air, a nuanced and enjoyable picture of a thoroughly likeable character.
An engaging and successful character study – an hour long peek into Miss Shamrock's glamorous world.
Miss Shamrock is an air hostess, and she couldn't be more thrilled about it. Over the course of her monologue, she lets us in on all the excitements and tricks of her trade, as well as her own personal history, from growing up in a tiny Irish village to living the glamorous life she always dreamed of.
At the heart of this play is a highly engaging performance from Pauline Knowles as the eponymous Miss Shamrock. She is every bit the hostess, regaling the audience with witty anecdotes while filling the table with delicious looking treats. The play requires a wide range of talents in the different stories that are told, and Knowles delivers on all of them.
The script gives her plenty to work with. Writer Martin Travers clearly enjoys playing with language, and he is keen for us to share his pleasure, so the script moves frequently and swiftly from uses of rich Irish dialect to moments of lyrical beauty. The strongest points, however, are the naturalistic stories that make up most of the play. These are entirely believable and very captivating.
The set deserves a special mention. Everything about the simple design supports a particular interpretation of the character –one of taste and unostentatious elegance. Her playfulness is there too in the lighthearted tablecloth and funny little flags for the cakes. The intelligent choices here are a very important aspect of how immersive this production is.
One possible misstep is the conceit that this monologue is taking place while Miss Shamrock talks to her niece, who has come for lunch. Since this is a well delivered monologue, however, Knowles addresses herself to the whole audience, frequently moving around and gently engaging the whole room. Unfortunately, this gives the impression that her niece is moving around the room at impossible speed; particularly unfortunate since the monologue is certainly strong enough to stand on its own, without inventing an in-universe audience for it.
Ultimately, however, this is an engaging and successful character study – an hour long peek into Miss Shamrock's glamorous world.