Underbelly, Bristo Square (Venue 302), Edinburgh
Until 27 August 2018
Kat Woods’ play Killymuck is the story of Niamh who lives on a council estate in Northern Ireland with her alcoholic father, mother and sister. She’s bright, sassy and resourceful but learns early on the disadvantages of living with little money. It’s a personal story of growing up in difficult circumstances and one which aims to not only expose class stereotypes but also demonstrate how they exacerbate the problems.
In an engaging monologue, slickly performed by Aoife Lennon, we track Niamh’s life through school, the narrative peppered with factual interludes, stats and research that relate to what is going on in her life.
Woods’ evocative writing brings colourful and touching insight from the mind of the child and teenage Niamh, through amusing first encounters with boys and porn to the isolation of being bullied for where she lives and having hand me down clothes.
There is an ease in her storytelling and Lennon’s performance that brings out fun and laughter in Niamh’s life while exposing the injustice of the cards she has been dealt.
She enjoys swim club but can’t go because she can’t afford it; what’s the point of learning French if you are never going to go to France – or anywhere.
What opportunities there are, are difficult to take advantage of and sometimes there just aren’t the opportunities – one computer for more than 100 school children.
But more than that she is fighting a system insensitive to the problems and stigma attached to poverty. The nuns at her school expose those with the greatest need – handing out lunch vouchers only if you raise your hand in class and when tragedy strikes one of her classmates there is no one offering support.
Equally, there is no one questioning the roots of unruly behaviour or attempting to understand. Niamh is left to find her own way despite it all.
There is no doubting Killymuck’s powerful message, it is moving and tough but there is also love and laughter along the way.