The Woman in the Wall
The Woman in the Wall follows Lorna (Ruth Brady), a woman troubled by her traumatising experiences in one of Ireland’s Magdalene laundries. Lorna has trouble living a normal life – something that isn’t made easier when she wakes up to find a dead woman in her house. She has no idea who this person is or how she got there, and can’t trust her own judgement due to trauma-induced bouts of destructive sleepwalking, all of which make her a prime suspect when people start looking for the missing woman. As more bodies begin to pile up, and with detective Colman Akande (Daryl McCormack) on her tail, it’s up to Lorna to piece together the short-term circumstances she finds herself in and uncover secrets from her past in the laundry.
The Magdalene laundries provide a primary narrative focus of the show, used them as a means to explore a number of themes such as family, trauma, abuse and religion. These are heavy topics, and the laundries make for complicated subject matter, but The Woman in the Wall’s writing manages to tell its story effectively while being respectful of the real-life suffering endured by the victims. It is also careful about how it handles mental illness, allowing its mentally ill characters to have agency and complexity without demonising or patronising them. Lorna and Colman are the characters with the lion’s share of screentime, and Brady and McCormack both do a brilliant job of representing the distinct, messy emotional arcs their characters go on, elevating the tension created by the strong writing and making for some truly compelling television.
The Woman in the Wall also boasts some stylish visuals, with ominous lighting and camerawork that renders the familiar and mundane settings unfamiliar and alien, bolstered by some fantastic effects that unsettle and confound the viewer, putting them in Lorna’s shoes as she questions the world around her. This is a solid murder mystery, mixing effective character writing with incisive political commentary, stylish gothic cinematography and great performances across the board. If it can stick the landing, fans of whodunnits are in for a great time.
The Woman in the Wall is released on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on 27th August 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Woman in the Wall here: