Arts Review: Grain in the Blood

Dir. Orla O’Loughlin, Tron Theatre, 19-29th October

A rural almost-thriller about the morals of ‘for the greater good’, this play philosophises over what is right and what is fair. For my classical heart (Latin Honours hello!), Grain in the Blood sounded like it ticked all the boxes. Drawing on easily recognisable Lorca references and with a considered nod to Greek tragedy, it certainly seems like something I could get extremely excited about. The staging supports these impressions certainly; a use of stark back lighting, minimal props and liberal smoke machines does create an eerie space that is reminiscent of Lorca’s sparse, rural Spain. The focus in the text on the use of verse and the choice to have the character Autumn slip into a trance in recitation is chorus-worthy indeed.

Overall, it has the elements for something quite powerful. Does it deliver? Not always. On the surface, as I say, it does create a dramatic scene and the stage direction is both impressive and maintained throughout. The flick of a coin on a table at a point of tension is purely cinematic. In this, the play is certainly a dream realised: you can absolutely tell the precise vision of the director and where she wanted to go with the story. But at times there lacks a depth to the motivations of the characters and often it removes my ability to feel anything except puzzlement. Although it is entertaining and the acting for the most part is very good, the text doesn’t support the richness that could’ve been created by the bold staging and classical elements. The lack of explanation, poor factual support and the veer towards the ridiculous spoils the story because it ruins the play’s empathetic power.

Having said that, without analysis and completely on the surface, it is an interesting piece of theatre. The direction attempted a cold, thriller style which is supported by the acting but it didn’t quite match the allusions to tragedy. It is not as thought provoking as the subject matter requires, but it entertains with its new twist on folklore and memory.

[Lotte Couldrick]

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