The Road to Skibbereen
  • By Kyung Oh
  • |
  • 20th Aug 2014
  • |
  • ★★★★★

Lianna is a young woman with learning disabilities. Ever since her father died three years ago, her mother has had the full-on task of taking care of her by herself. The show opens with Lianna throwing a tantrum, while her mother tries to coax her into getting ready for her first day at a local college, where she is to take drama classes.

It is an extremely compelling depiction of the strength of a beautiful character who finds her path to self-actualisation in spite of her disability.

The show alternates between scenes set at Lianna’s home with her mother and the ones set in the drama classes at college. The drama class discuss Macbeth together and rehearse for an upcoming performance. The supporting cast that play Lianna’s classmates and her teacher put on an excellent performance. The classmates show a lovable joy for acting and a genuine, child-like curiosity for the text of Macbeth, while the teacher is charming, patient and adept at leading the class discussions to fruitful grounds. As the play progresses, Lianna brings in what she has seen from her relationship with her mother into making astute observations of Lady Macbeth.

I cannot give enough praise to Jessica Corcoran, playing the role of Lianna. She perfectly portrays the transformation (rendered so brilliantly by the script) from self-centred and stubborn at first, to becoming a young woman full of courage, who resolves to take care of her mother by herself. It is incredibly powerful to see her find her feet and learn to make friends that she cares for and trusts as well as realising her talents as an actress. Meanwhile, she also struggles with the guilt that she might have exhausted her mother into falling into illness. Angela Walsh - who has written the script - also deserves ample praise for her role as Lianna’s mother. Full of concern for her disabled daughter, she is tired but tries as best as she can; once she realises that her mind has begun to falter, the way she copes and the dissolution of her character are heartbreaking to watch.

It is a very powerful script, which has won the award for best production at the Write Now Festival. It is an extremely compelling depiction of the strength of a beautiful character who finds her path to self-actualisation in spite of her disability. One of the later scenes with the mother’s letter was especially moving - I was in tears, sobbing by the end, and so were the majority of the audience members.

Reviews by Kyung Oh

Underbelly, Cowgate

Before Us

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Men in the Cities

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Years to the Day

★★
theSpace on Niddry St

Can't Stay Away!

Summerhall

Snoutology for Beginners

★★★★
C venues - C

The Road to Skibbereen

★★★★★

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The Blurb

One of six scripts selected as finalists in Liverpool's prestigious Write Now Festival 2013. The festival involved two developmental performances for which the play was awarded the prize for Best Production. Written by actress Angela Walsh (Eileen in Distant Voices, Still Lives, Carol Salter in Brookside), who also stars in the show, this is a bittersweet comedy/drama about learning to sing and get on a bus; about Shakespeare and real chips; about the enduring love between a mother and her daughter and about how that changes when they find their roles reversed.

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