They Float Up
Producer: Bewley’s Café Theatre, Dublin, and The Lock Inn
Director: Peter McDermott
Cast: Susannah De Wrixon, Kwaku Fortune
Author: Jacquelyn Reingold
Streamed on three successive Wednesdays: November 11, 18, 25
Running time: 40 minutes
Before lockdown, Bewley’s Café Theatre in the bustling heart of Dublin was the place to grab a short lunch-time play, a bowl of soup – and maybe even chat up a stranger.
For now, those days are gone, but Bewley’s has joined forces with online events company The Lock Inn to open the tiny venue to a potentially limitless audience. Many in the arts sector already predict digital delivery is here to stay even when live performances return.
First staged at the theatre in 2019, the two-hander has been filmed according to strict lockdown guidelines.
It withstands our testing times in other ways as assured acting under Peter McDermott’s perfectly paced direction wins the tolerance of an audience sitting before all kinds of screens with the potentially lethal combination of a shortened attention span and a close-up view of the action.
Jacquelyn Reingold’s capsule play also acquires fresh resonance as the poor and Black are more likely to be the victims of COVID-19, just as they were more likely to die and “float up” when Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans.
As with all good writing, there are hidden truths beyond the headlines.
Joan, played by Susannah De Wrixon, is a white New Yorker, with a bag full of cash, but she is just as much a victim as the motherless, jobless, homeless Darnell (Kwaku Fortune).
In a society loaded towards youth and beauty, as a menopausal, discarded women, she is on one level as impoverished and invisible as he.
The human triumph of the play, which we sense from the start, is that De Wrixon’s shameless, superficially predatory Joan will win over the taciturn Darnell, who on the face of it wants nothing more than to be left alone with his beer and his newspaper.
It’s an overcoming hard to replicate when we can’t go out into society to approach brooding strangers.
Happily, online Bewley’s and The Lock Inn offer a post-show discussion with the cast and audience members wherever they are.
Barbara Lewis © 2020.