This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.
In a dingy Dublin flat a Cork woman ruminates over her life and what it has become. Her routine exists exclusive of the outside world, which she only glimpses through her window. As she tries to ready herself to leave this exile, she replays episodes of her life that have led her to where she is today. Her disordered thoughts tangentially veer from one thing to the next, a faint psychical line connecting them. Through her pressured speech and disjointed actions a story unfolds; one that will hopefully give an answer to the blood stains on the carpet.
This one woman show, written and performed by Karen Cogan, is an exquisite piece of theatre that enters the psyche of a woman struggling in life and provides the audience with a sliver of her fractured world. Under the direction of Cathal Cleary Cogan’s portrayal is heart breaking and gut wrenching in equal measure. The complex life of Cogan’s character becomes relatable in the face of her struggle with the world around and herself.
The Half of It makes reference to many different and difficult topics, such mental health, social isolation, abortion, and family. Despite this, it isn’t all bleak and there is much humour in the innate Irishness of the script and its performance.
This site-specific piece is perhaps a little too specific in some ways. While the excellently designed space immerses the audience in the performance there are arguably too many people in the room and not all seats give an ideal view. The entrance process helps to develop a sense of isolation and is quite evocative but feels somewhat drawn out. These limitations are, however, far surpassed by the excellent overall standard of the piece.
Cogan’s commanding performance is an experience in itself and coupled with the atmospheric space results in 50 minutes of absorbing theatre. The Half of It is a poignant reflection on modern society and how we treat ourselves and each other.
Note: venue is not wheelchair accessible.
Writer: Karen Cogan
Director: Cathal Cleary
Runs until 24 September 2017 | Image: Contributed