…touched… by Ursula Rani Sarma

Touched Featured Image

“…Director Donal Gallagher is extremely skilled at grafting black onto white, experience on to innocence….(he) has preserved the original freshness of voice and clear-sightedness of vision in retelling the ultimate horror story for any generation: the premature enforced loss of innocence…”  The Irish Times

A typical Dublin street crime is unpacked and traced back, through the lives of the desperate down-country brother and sister who commit it. Touched follows Cora and Mikey’s desperate flight, from the harsh memories of rural Ireland, to the even harsher realities of city life on the eve of a new millennium.

 In 2004 Asylum took on the first professional touring production of Ursula Sarma’s Edinburgh Fringe hit.

Cast: Mark O’Brien, Catriona Lynch, Ed Malone
Set Design: Donal Gallagher
Lighting: John Cumiskey
Sound: Linda Buckley
Director: Donal Gallagher

Co-produced with Cork Midsummer Festival – National Tour, 2004.

You might guess from the innocent style of the title that …touched… is one of Ursula Rani Sarma’s earliest plays, written when she was just 19 and received with great enthusiasm at the 1999 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Asylum Productions has chosen to revisit this seminal piece at a time when it is more difficult than ever to attract young people to theatre. Success in that direction was plain here, with many in the audience about the same age as the playwright.

Director Donal Gallagher has preserved the original freshness of voice and clear-sightedness of vision in retelling the ultimate horror story for any generation: the premature enforced loss of innocence. In a starkly claustrophobic, curved wall black box, with only a couple of wooden beer crates as accessories, Mark O’Brien, Catriona Lynch and Ed Malone simply become Macca, Cora and Mikey, three young people from very different backgrounds bought together by chance on the cold, heartless streets of Dublin.

O’Brien’s Macca is a wise-cracking, loud-mouthed young hoodlum. When he meets this brother-sister pair, just up from the country, they could be from another planet. But for all that Macca may be streetwise and tricky, they are harbouring much darker experiences than he could ever imagine.

Rani Sarma has beautifully captured the clash of urban and rural mores, particularly in the superficially naive characters of Mikey and Cora. Malone comes on all wide-eyed and gauche, but there is something truly terrifying lurking behind his gangly exterior. Lynch, making her first appearance in Ireland, is heartbreakingly convincing as the young girl whose life was forever tainted the day the local doctor took her to the beach for a celebratory birthday ice cream.

Gallagher is extremely skilled at grafting black onto white, experience on to innocence. The effect was evident from the stunned silence of the audience.

Jane Coyle The Irish Times 11/6/2004

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