The Bunker Theatre, London – 13 April 2019
Killymuck, looking at life for a Northern Irish working-class woman living amongst the Troubles, isn’t just a moving portrayal of the past but a worrying reminder of how little has changed for those facing poverty.
Aoife Lennon plays Niamh, a boisterous working-class Catholic living in a large family with an alcoholic father and a struggling mother. Niamh takes through the trials of tribulations of growing up on a housing estate that was built on a pauper’s grave. Is the estate cursed with poverty, injustice and inequality?
Kat Wood’s story puts women front and centre; the pressure to make ends meet such as the neighbour who works as a prostitute but whose collection of porn the young Niamh stumbles across seeming quite progressive. The babysitter who finds herself pregnant in her GCSE year, Niamh’s mother struggling with an alcoholic husband and four children and Niamh herself who struggles with the disappointment of not getting into the local grammar as her abusive father judges her to be a failure.
Woods isn’t afraid to say what is often left unsaid; without opportunity and knowledge the working class will never succeed. It often reminded me of Derry Girls, with tales of attempts to break sectarianism and the dominance of the Catholic Church. Clever people are being left to rot because they are poor. It is an excellent production and Lennon, as Niamh and other characters in her life, is believable as a person who even when she finds opportunity is haunted by not only her past failures. Lennon gives a strong and well rounded performance.
As part of a double bill with Box Clever it is a real shame that both plays aren’t being given a chance to shine. The second of the double bill (which alternates) starts at 9pm and it is a real problem if The Bunker want more people to see these productions, which both offer a unique role of women in working/benefit class society.