Vessel (5 stars)

This article is from 2018


credit. Emma Micallef

Tackling the debate over Ireland's abortion law

Maia lives in Ireland, weeks away from the repeal of the 8th amendment of the country's constitution. A tweet about her own unwanted pregnancy turns her into a right-to-choose activist. She lets tabloid reporter David accompany her to England for her abortion.

The minimal set and direction make way for excellent writing (by performer Laura Wyatt O'Keeffe) to shine. Maia and David are complex and subtle characters. They are superbly portrayed by O'Keeffe and Edward DeGaetano, who bring real life and humour to these two unlikely companions. Maia and David hesitate, they make mistakes, and they certainly haven't considered all the implications of their activism.

Vessel is both poignant and subtle. It questions the easy stereotyping that comes with a binary view of activism. David wants to make Maia the vessel of reproductive rights for the greater good of the Repeal the 8th campaign, but he still carries inconsistencies and bias in his own view of fertility. There are hints something more might develop between the characters, but maybe nothing will: Vessel doesn't offer a happy ending or clear resolution for the characters. Instead it shows what happens after the struggle, be that Maia's clinical procedure or the referendum, the results of which are announced halfway through the show.

Vessel focuses on the individuals having to make important choices, and suggests the campaign for reproductive rights doesn't end with a referendum; instead it acknowledges the choices women have to make, and questions what happens to them now they have that freedom.

Underbelly Bristo Square, until 27 Aug (not 13), 1.05pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).


  • 5 stars

A play about an Irish right-to-choose activist, set before and after the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.