Box Clever and Killymuck at the Bunker
This double bill of one-woman shows explores the effects of growing up working-class. Killymuck by Kat Woods is inspired by real events and follows the story of Niamh as she grows up in 1970s Northern Ireland. The sparse stage is a square space delineated by eight vertical fluorescent lights, with a circle of earth in the centre and one chair. Aoife Lennon performs with real passion and anger: she evokes Niamh’s alcoholic father in terrifying style and makes the audience understand when the character flares up at those around her. There is a pulsing soundtrack that adds an ominous feel.
Lennon steps out of her square and the light changes when she breaks the fourth wall to deliver statistics to the audience, making the mission statement of the play clear. It is the big picture that has been so personally illustrated by the text; the acute detail makes the production feel deeply intimate. At the end, Lennon draws on the whiteboard at the back of the space to clearly illustrate theories such as the locus of control and how equality may not be enough when everyone is starting from different places – that equity may be fairer. It is a clear call for change.
Box Clever is the tale of Marnie, a young single mother who flees to a women’s refuge after her boyfriend Liam breaks her nose. Redd Lily Roche appears on stage in white jeans and a white t-shirt stained with blood. Her husky, resonant voice fills the space and her conviction resonates with the audience. Each character she plays is defined by their voice and body language: Fifi, the ineffectual-bordering-on-malicious key worker; Marnie’s Mum; the evil Liam; Autumn, Marnie’s four-year-old daughter, represented by a balloon; all feel completely believable.
Marnie is part intimidating bravado, part helplessness. She is honest and funny and Monsay Whitney’s writing is vivid and immediate, feeling completely authentic. A throbbing soundtrack like a heartbeat again adds oppressiveness and every so often the fluorescent lights flicker with the crackle of electricity and the character doubles over, clutching her abdomen, brought down by the hopelessness of her situation. She ends the play desperately asking the audience, “What do I do?”
Both plays accurately evoke the oppressiveness of having nothing. They are gruelling but thought-provoking, with a conscience and a big heart that seek to bring about change.
Images: Craig Sugden
Box Clever and Killymuck are at the Bunker from 26th March until 13th April 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.