Niamh Lynch (Emily Landham) has been calling her mother, Teresa, (Dearbhla Molloy) all morning. Unable to reach her and fearing the worst, she rushes to her mother’s house. Upon arriving, Niamh finds her mother in good health but is greeted by some disturbing news. After many years away, her brother Nial (Peter Albrink) is coming home for a visit.
What follows is an examination of the tricky nature of memory, the long-term effects of tragedy, and the complicated notion of being a family.
Moment by Deirdre Kinahan is like many other Irish plays in that it is very much a character sketch. Kinahan’s focus seems to have been on building complex people with a shared and complicated history. The first act builds to a frenzy when, through fate, happenstance, and reluctant acquiescence, the three Lynch children and their significant others join Teresa for a disastrous celebratory tea. The reveal, just before the end of the first act, of the event that drove Nial away from his family hits all the right notes.
However, the second act does not keep up the same emotional pace and, although there are some lovely scenes between various members of the talented ensemble, it does fall a little flat.
The performances are what really make this production. Emily Landham is fantastic as Niamh; she manages to be angry, closed-off, and stubborn while remaining entirely sympathetic. Dearbhla Molloy tackles the multifaceted Teresa with dexterity, boomeranging around the character’s complicated landscape of coping mechanisms.
Caroline Bootle Pendergast, as Niamh’s sister Ciara, handles her comedic moments as deftly as the highly emotional scenes and Ciaran Byrne, as Ciara’s husband Dave, is frequently the much-needed comic relief in highly-tense moments. Special mention is deserved by the young Mira Cohen, who plays Hilary Kelly (a character for whom further description would ruin some of the play’s best moments.) Cohen is bright and charming, as well as a very good dancer.
Moment is not necessarily a groundbreaking or electric play but when graced with a company as talented as that of Studio’s current production, it acts as a vehicle for some truly fine performances. Supported by detailed and restrained set and lighting design (Debra Booth and Scott Bolman, respectively,), the production is a master class in complicated characterization.
Moment by Deirdre Kinahan. Directed by Ethan McSweeny. Featuring Emily Landham, Avery Clark, Dearbhla Molloy, Caroline Bootle Pendergast, Ciaran Byrne, Peter Albrink, Hannah Yelland, and Mira Cohen. Set Design: Debra Booth. Lighting Design: Scott Bolman. Costume Design: Philip Witcomb. Sound Design: Palmer Heffernan. Stage Manager: Anthony O. Bullock. Assistant Stage Manager: Amanda Landis. Dramaturg: Lauren Halvorsen. Dialects: Gary Logan. Produced by Studio Theatre. Reviewed by Jessica Pearson.