Excellent writing, performances make ‘Moment’ worth seizing
Steep Theatre Company presents
Review by Joy Campbell
In Dierdre Kinahan’s Moment, Nial Lynch has returned reluctantly to his mother’s home for a visit after serving time in prison for a violent crime committed many years ago, followed by a self-imposed estrangement from his family. When his new wife, Ruth, observes, “You’re a different person now,” his reply, “Not here. Not ever, ever here,” could be said of everyone in his family, who serve as uncomfortable reminders to one another of the dark past to which Nial’s actions have bound them.
If Nial is the unwilling prodigal son feted by his mother upon his return, his sister Niamh, burdened by her own feelings of anger and guilt over Nial’s crime, is the resentful sibling provoked by the good fortune he seems to have found, and her family’s eagerness to celebrate it. Nial’s persistent guilt makes him also uneasy with the kindness shown him. When they are compelled to sit at a family dinner, things come to a head.
Under Jonathan Berry’s direction, Kinahan’s pitch-perfect natural dialog is done justice through exquisite timing and delivery; the dinner scene, played out on Dan Stratton’s beautifully realistic set, is a joy to watch and hear (the Irish dialect is excellent – kudos to dialect coach Kendra Thulin). The performances are unforced and natural: as Naimh, Cynthia Marker’s powerful performance shows us a woman torn between self-preservation and vulnerability. We are given insight into her anger through heartbreaking flashbacks with the childhood friend (played by an absolutely radiant Grace Melon), who was the victim of Nial’s crime. Josh Odor gives Nial an understated torment that underscores the self-imposed prison he carries within, and Julia Siple brings a spot-on harried energy to youngest sister Ciara, the down-to-earth caretaker and real mother figure of the family. As the mother not always quite in touch with reality, Maggie Cain delivers a consistent, likeable character that may nevertheless benefit from a more colorful delivery at times. Alex Gillmor, Carey Lee Burton, and James Allen in supporting roles deliver solid characters that provide a calming balance to the intensity of the family drama.
Steep Theatre’s production marks the show’s U.S. premier. This is one Moment you should not miss.
Moment continues through August 18th at Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets are $22-$25, and are available by phone (866.811.4111) or online through OvationTix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at SteepTheatre.com. (Running time: approximately 1 hour 40 minutes, includes an intermission)
Photos by Lee Miller