Desolate Heaven

  • Theatre
  • Fringe
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Teenagers Sive and Orlaith are running away: from the housebound parents they’re required to care for; from other, darker aspects of their pasts. What they’re running towards is less clear – a beach, perhaps, and a future that might just allow them to be together forever.

There is much to admire in Paul Robinson’s production, not least, two outstanding central performances from Carla Langley as Orlaith – brave and boyish in her oversized lumberjack shirt – and Evelyn Lockley as the timid, fragile Sive. James Perkins’s design, too, makes good use of the limited space: a stack of planks at the back of the stage slip easily between beach, roadside, and cottage.

But Ailís Ní Ríain’s play is an oddity: it starts out as a compelling, lyrical tale of two girls setting out on an adventure, but soon lurches unconvincingly into the realm of magical realism – and then on into melodrama.

The girls encounter a series of older, implicitly lesbian women – a farmer, a lorry driver, a butcher – who spin an allegorical tale about a beautiful girl and a prince. Tony award-winning Brid Brennan plays all three women, in a high-energy performance that’s at odds with the other actresses’ naturalistic style; the relevance of the allegory is never quite made clear. Laura Barnett

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