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Review by Jocelyn Clarke The Sunday Tribune August 1993

No Exit Theatre Company’s production of Richard Cameron’s Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down is extraordinarily compelling and rewarding, both in its very fine performances and in the unfolding of its ironic and tragic story.

Three women living in a small town in Yorkshire, who have never met but are aware of one another’s existence, are bound together by the death of a young boy in their childhood, whose repercussions bring them together in adulthood.

Eight years earlier, Ruby is abandoned by her boyfriend Royce when he discovers she is pregnant. A ‘wide boy’, he is callus and cruel, not only with Ruby but also with the town’s child of God, Al Janney.

Jodi, aged ten, is in love with the child in Al. They visit their wishing tree together, adding paper and trinkets to it, walk and play games together. On the fateful day that Royce and his three friends chase Al and Jodie, killing Al in the local quarry, Lynette, whose mother is dying, finds the wishing tree.

Now Ruby is a working mother living with her small son Carl. Jodie, who suffered a severe trauma after Al’s death, works in a Hairdressers. Several years after her mother’s death Lynette married Royce and lives in an abusive relationship.

Royce has refined his cruelty over the years, taking it out on Lynette, attempting to take his son from Ruby, and again threatening Jodie. Al Janney, unseen and only spoken of, brings the women together in an act of violent liberation and sweet revenge.

The drama of Cameron’s play lies not in the action but in the telling. The women’s lives, monologues all, create an emotional and gently mythopoetic resonance as various events are woven together in a tapestry rich in both place and character.

As Royce’s (like Al Janney, unseen) brutality pervades both the women’s lives and the play, the only(re)solution lies within the matrix of stories and the strength of the personalities of the women.

Under Neil Donnelly’s fluid direction, combined with simple staging and lighting, the three excellent performances, (Katherine Murphy, Maeve Price and Triona McGarry), rich in nuance and precise in observation, create a drama that is as provocative as it is rewarding.



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