Eating Seals and Seagulls’ Eggs (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

Eating Seals and Seagulls’ Eggs

Credit: Ros Kavanagh

Provocative, visually striking reflection on language, place and identity from superb Irish company

Don’t be put off by the subject matter. ‘Ireland’s most hated woman’ of this show’s Fringe programme description is Peig Sayers, a peasant from the Blasket Islands off the country’s west coast (‘three miles offshore and five hundred years in the past’). Her Gaelic-language autobiography has long been on Ireland’s compulsory school syllabus and became loathed by generations of schoolkids – for its indecipherable language, and for what it symbolised about Ireland’s past and identity.

Lining up the astonishingly vitriolic hatred still felt towards Sayers (whose grave is regularly spat on) against the prejudice she herself has encountered as a native Gaelic-speaker, Caitríona Ní Mhurchú has created a hugely intelligent, joyfully provocative reflection on language, place and identity that has resonances well beyond rural Ireland.

Using an ever-present video backdrop by visual artist Adam Gibney – a rich, fascinating collage of archive images and digital effects – as well as helter-skelter rackfuls of vintage props and memories, Ní Mhurchú (superb as a defiant, arrogant Sayers) and co-star Louise Lewis deliver a compelling hour of moving, challenging theatre, as theatrically inventive as it is intellectually rewarding.

Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 17, 24), 1.05pm, £7–£10.

Eating Seals and Seagulls' Eggs

  • 4 stars

A show exploring language and national identity through archive material, film footage and storytelling.