My Name is Saoirse

Set in an attic sewing room, Saoirse’s life is presented to us as a form of patchwork quilt. As her grandmother – who taught her to sew – once said, a quilt has much in common with life: some parts are good and some are bad but the whole is what you make of it. It’s a Forrest Gump line, though Saoirse’s life doesn’t have the scale or grandeur of his picaresque journey. In this delicately spun story, the world around her remains small, unchanged by her actions, although it changes her.

A meaningfully authentic story, simply told.

This is a one-woman play about the end of Saoirse’s childhood days. Taking place in rural Ireland in the 1980s, the story is spun with two threads. First, her early days, which are viewed through nostalgic eyes. Living with her father and brother in a peach-coloured house, with the absence of her mother (who died bringing her into the world) keenly felt, young Saoirse is full of sweetness and naivety. She admires her brother’s athletic abilities and is in constant awe of her best friend Siobhan – voluptuous, lively and Saoirse’s source of womanly advice. The second thread, which is closer to the present, follows one night at Wilson’s pub that plunges Saoirse into adult life, something she is not yet ready for.

Director Hildegard Ryan finds some lovely storytelling opportunities in the sewing room setting, like when Saoirse uses a measuring tape to emulate Siobhan’s trademark hairstyle – a silver scrunchie securing her fountain of ginger hair. A pair of sewing scissors are used to scratch in some classroom graffiti, while another moment sees Saoirse take a length of floral printed fabric and fashion it into a bouquet to lay at her Mam’s grave.

Writer Eva O’Connor’s language is evocative, though there were times I wondered if this story would perhaps be better suited to prose. Poor sightlines meant I often couldn’t see what was happening on stage and, as much of the piece used narration, the experience is akin to hearing an audiobook. It is, however, a meaningfully authentic story, simply told. 

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The Blurb

1987: Johnny Logan has just won the Eurovision, mobile phones are about to be invented, and in Limerick, Saoirse O'Brien is sick of her best friend calling her a frigid. After agreeing to a night of drinking with the lads in Wilson's Pub, she discovers her pregnancy, and is forced to set out on a journey that leads her miles from home, and the carefree adolescence she knew. Winners of First Fortnight Award, 2014 Dublin Fringe. 'A touching and heartbreaking coming of age yarn, delivered by a gifted wordsmith and skilful storyteller' (Evening Herald, Dublin).