This multi-media piece by Caitríona Ní Mhurchú is both a history lesson and meditation on identity. Sparked by a verbal attack the writer received when speaking Irish on a bus it follows the fate of Gaelic in modern Ireland with anger, sadness and a resigned sense of humour.
Ní Mhurchú and her fellow performer Louise Lewis hang their story on the life and writing of Peig Sayers whose book was once a set text in Irish schools. The play uses quotes from her work, as well as the strong reactions of those who had to study her, mixed with recollections and pictures from Ní Mhurchú’s childhood as the only Irish speaker in an her neighbourhood. The overwhelming feeling you get from both strands is of a country seeking to bury its past and disdain for a language that refuses to stop rattling the coffin lid.
Lewis and Ní Mhurchú manage to invest this often bleak story with playfulness and a wry humour. Peig is is given a level of awareness of her legacy she almost certainly never possessed and Lewis, playing the younger Ní Mhurchú brings to life the bewilderment and hurt of child always on the outside looking in.
This is a show with particular resonance for Scottish audiences with their own relationship and views on Gaelic, but it’s such a well constructed, well conceived and engagingly performed piece it will appeal to anyone who appreciates thought provoking theatre.