This Is Paradise – Traverse Theatre

Written by Michael John O’Neill

Directed by Katherine Nesbitt

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The determination to maintain an intimate monologue to the level This Is Paradise offers is a rare feat of theatre. Even the most prolific monologue pieces suffer their ebb and flow of quality. But not this. Michael John O’Neill’s scipt is something remarkable.

Upon the request of a desperate young woman, Kate chooses to give away the one thing her friends, family, and country have been longing for; peace. In choosing to help this stranger, Kate agrees to aid the man who promised to ruin her. This is Paradise is a tale of the ramifications of her choice and the persistent and seductive allure of brutality, and its continued stain on Irish history.

Peace is no more than a fallacy to Kate, something preached but elusive. A coined term that to Kate has no place in her mind. This quietly confident glass cannon of a woman channelled with a sublime nuance by Amy Molloy, who will spend 80 minutes alone on stage – and charge the air with passionate fury and sentiment that few others can. 

Yet no matter the supposed ease she has surrounding her with partner Brendy; Kate’s previous embers flicker for the life which shaped her, a life forged by a relationship with an ill-suited older man, Diver, a man deeply engaged in the violence of The Troubles. His existentialist nature renews to intrude on Kate’s life, now pregnant, but cannot resist being drawn back to Diver, concerned about the mental state she left him in.

The elegance in Molloy’s almost spectral recounting, so vehemently balancing the often comedic with anguish, causes it to be impossible to find yourself not clung to every annunciation. Senses awaken, whether it be the feeling of the salt in the air or the scent of spilt beer cans, there’s something insightful and tangible in Michael John O’Neill’s production.

Storytelling in a pure form – the relationship between director Katherine Nesbitt and Molloy is the lynchpin in This Is Paradise, where the trust in pushing Molloy’s emotions to the surface for an extended period works wonders for the rawness of the show. Limited in space, Lulu Tam’s minimalist design of a cracked runway thrusts Molloy into a confrontation with the audience, reflecting her intention to move forward, and inability to sidestep her past or upcoming choices.

Closure is rarely as therapeutic as we desire. This Is Paradise chooses to end with a glimmer rather than absolutism. It refrains from masquerading as the conquest of violence and bares itself. And that even since April 10th, 1998, the bubbling resentment and fear surface time and again. Not only a significantly potent monologue on the sacrifice and cost of conflict but an understanding of The Troubles on an indirect, personal level.

Something haunting, if remarkable

This is Paradise runs at the Traverse Theatre on select dates until August 28th

Tickets for which may be obtained here.

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