Gutted: a poignant and inspiring piece of theatre

Image courtesy of The Marlowe Theatre

‘Gutted’, a poignant black comedy set in a fish factory in 1980s Dublin, is an incredible work of ensemble performance, excellent display of acting from the performers and all in all a smart piece of theatre. As a drama student I was ‘gutted’ this wasn’t on our recommended theatre watch list. It contained everything that we aspire to create as dramatists; it had an emphasis on imagination, possessed coherence in structure and storyline and contained skill in performance and delivery. The use of innovation and artistic risks was present throughout every aspect of the play and they all paid off. With a central cast of three each delivering a monologue about their individual lives, the show cleverly used speech, movement, song and props to illustrate issues of domestic violence, abortion, sexual abuse and sexual identity.

The monologue style piece, written by Sharon Byrne, follows the stories of three Irish girls with one thing in common; they all work in a fish factory. Over the course of the evening, each woman retells an eventful night from their past and expresses how it has affected them.

The setup made it easy to captivate the audience, with the show beginning with a story that had a through line throughout the play that we can all relate to – an exciting night out. Despite touching on those heavy topics, it was well balanced out with very funny comical moments, from a few innuendos to a couple of Italian accents, and he show kept the viewers’ attentions through strong and bold performances from each member of the cast. All actresses did an incredible job altering themselves physically and vocally to portray each unique individual character; our particular favourite being when Sarah Hosford played Deirdre’s (Niamh Finlay) father.

Despite the fact that many characters were mentioned, our attention never deviated from the three protagonists due to their use of multi-rolling and representation of secondary characters through the lampshades. The most impressive element was how raw and intimate it felt. The stage was stripped bare, with no wings or backdrop, just three microphones and no more than 10 lamps dotted around. On top of that, the only music or sound effects used were the vocals of the actresses. With a limited cast of 3 women . . . they sure as hell suspended your belief and made you forget that it was a three person show. As each of them took turns in portraying individuals from their past, for the split second they did, we were convinced that Deidre, Breda and Dolores were figments of their past. We were convinced because they were convinced. In performance, belief and conviction is imperative and this was present within this show.

The show’s pinnacle was an excellently executed moment by Niamh Finlay, highlighted by a single lamp amongst the shadows, as we discover the dark twist to Deirdre’s story. In the final five minutes of the play the pace increases along with the tension, making you even more eager to discover each story’s outcome.

Located within the Marlowe studio, without an elaborate set or stage design, without any sound design or score, without any external cues. We truly believed we were peeking through the windows of the lives of women in a 1980s Dublin. The show intrigued me so much in the moment that we were seconds away from emailing my teacher that: This is a must see! THIS IS THE TYPE OF WORK WE ARE ALL ASPIRING TO CREATE! As an audience, you feel truly involved in the stories of the three women and have a greater understanding of their struggles, as Irish women living in the 80s.

The show really is a piece of art. And we're so grateful to hear that they are touring until the 30th of October. Our only advice would be to google what an ‘Irish Debs’ is before going, it will make things a lot clearer.

Missed the TOUR?

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