Seanmhair at The Other Room #Review

Seanmhair - Molly Vevers (photo credit Aenne Pallasca)

Outlier’s Season at The Other Room continues at a pace. I continue to think about Sinners Club often, and Seanmhair pursues this thought, within a theme of dark love. 

Seanmhair spoken aloud is pronounced shen-a-var. In itself this creates a mystical feel, but perhaps this was all in the purpose of Hywel John’s writing. Seanmhair is the story of two children, who meet on the streets of Edinburgh. This is the life sentence of love. And within this the play explores so much more.Seanmhair - Molly Vevers (photo credit Aenne Pallasca)The characterisation created by the three performers on the stage, the attention to detail as a 3D visualisation of Edinburgh is created within the intricacies of the story, the mood of the streets. This play captures the mood from the moment the stark lighting brings the play to being.

The lighting design by Katy Morison shows a beautiful empathy with the play. In my mind I compare it to the relationship of my twins, the mood of the play, the words walking seamlessly with the lighting. Dyfan Jones’ soundscape is subtle and entwined. Providing a perfect juxtaposition in the many locations. The piece explores, within the confines of Mark Bailey’s claustrophobic setting, life. A life which starts with adventure and leads to an urge to continue a rebellion against the seeming resultant straitjacket.

The three actors of this piece are Sian Howard, Hannah McPake and Molly Vevers. As individuals they bring a unique take to the role of Jenny. The relationship with Tommy moves from one of ten year-olds to a couple seeping in history, plagued by life. Sian Howard artfully takes on the role of Jenny in later years. Molly Vevers successfully brings the physicality of a younger Jenny. I loved Hannah McPake’s versatility in creating the binds of an embroidery, taking Jenny across the years not only through participation in the choral presentation but also in the wider characterisations.

All actors in this piece are taken through extremes, not only with a range of characterisations, and the uniting choral voice, but also in the themes covered. Kate Wasserberg’s  direction successfully plays to the humour of words, to the unity of repetition and the individual voice of strong women.Seanmhair - Sian Howard, Molly Vevers (photo credit Aenne Pallasca)The introduction of Jenny’s seanmhair is the theme which enchants this piece. Seanmhair is gaelic, meaning Grandmother. 

Seanmhair underpins the unitary voice which moves across time, from the 1950’s setting of the piece to today. The appreciation of life, the respect of life which only comes from listening to those whom surround you.

Jenny’s seanmhair is portrayed by Sian Howard, and there is beauty in the characterisation. The instant leaping of characters throughout the piece is exactly transitioned. This is one of the successes of the piece. This definition ensures the pace of the story stays with the audience. That the themes of the story are absorbed and appreciated.

At ninety minutes there are moments in the latter part of the play where the supernatural overtakes, and seems to obscure from a story which already flits across time and it is difficult to maintain the jump across spaces. 

Notwithstanding this, Seanmhair creates a remarkable sense of reality. Whilst positioned in a 1950’s setting, the themes which underpin feel as real today. This is a play which brings together wide-ranging talent, in doing so creating a starkness bound by a script with as much reality as magic.

Seanmhair is at The Other Room until 1st April with tickets available via the website before a transfer to the Edinburgh Festival.

Disclosure: I was invited to review this production for the purpose of this review. All words and opinion contained are my own.

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