New Electric Ballroom
Ladies night or Groundhog Day?
This article is from 2008.
From the secret teenage worlds of Disco Pigs to last year's The Walworth Farce, Enda Walsh's work has been preoccupied with the private codes and languages of insular groups. Here he focuses on three sisters who have effectively locked themselves away from their tiny fishing village and from any sort of progress, and now exist in gaudy, festering stasis. Ada cycles to her office every morning to 'turn fish into numbers', Breda and Clara spend their lives in perpetual, grotesque reenactment of a night when, as teenagers, they gave up on love.
There's not much dialogue in this piece, but there's lots of talking. It's essentially a monologue for four voices, each of the characters trapped within a repetitive cycle of the stories they tell and retell themselves about themselves. The play is shot through with broad comedy: in fact there are moments when the whole thing seems poised on the edge of undermining itself with farce. Glitzy diversions aside, what Walsh and his skilled, note-perfect cast are leading up to is subtle, bitter and heartbreaking tragedy.
The titular ballroom is at once escape: a Technicolor pleasure dome, completely removed from the grey stone of the village, and the neon symbol of their self-inflicted imprisonment.
Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 24 Aug, times vary, £16–£18 (£11–£12).