By Tulis McCall
The place is Dublin. The time is recent. Specifically the day after A 19 year old girl named Eimear Colgan died. She needed and abortion and could not get one because it was illegal. On this day in Dublin there is a grand protest planned, and Maz (Eva O’Connor) is there to attend. Her chosen form for the final leg of her journey is the Luas – Dublin’s light rail. It so happens that this is the same choice Bricks (Ciaran O’Brien) has made to take him for a day with his little girl.
Nobody quite gets where they are going – surprise. And in this very predictable play we see the two fisety yet adorable people set off sparks and slowly come to care about one another. The fact that we see this coming from a mile away dampens the pleasure of watching these characters discover what we already know.
Of the two, Bricks, named after an old weapon of choice in his youth, is the one with the story that pulls the tale along. He loves nothing in the world as much as his daughter, Yaz, and yet seems to be messing up in every way possible. He is also in mourning for a family member, and the Irish take their mourning seriously. So there he is at a life crossroad when he bumps into a very smart woman who is as mixed up as he. Bricks starts out the evening annoying not only Maz, but the rest of us. By the time we part company, however he has worn us down and won us over.
Maz, the weaker character of the two, is all exposition. She resides atop a soapbox speaking out in favor of abortion rights (or as I like to call it “the right to choose”) and will lecture anyone within earshot. That would be us or Bricks. Much of the show is monologue driven and we are on the receiving end for the majority of that time. Maz is a compendium of knowledge on the subject of women’s right to their own bodies. For the past three years she has made it her purpose. Colgan’s death has thrown gasoline on an ember of some magnitude magnitude. Ms. O’Connor, however, shows us little depth or variety in her acting choices. She is the playwright as well, and it may be that her intimacy with the text worked against her discovering the many hidden colors of her character. It happens a lot when playwrights are in their own play.
Ultimately we do not connect to this couple. Some of it is the actual writing which is lackluster and predictable, even when it slides into verse. Another element may be that the story is so specific to Dublin that most of us are left out of the tale because of the geographical tidbits. I recently visited Dublin and knew 95% of the references to streets, greens and bridges. Even so I got lost.
I am a fan of Fishamble company. Their previous play at 59E59, Blueberry Hill, left me gobsmacked. Maz and Bricks did not. This is a sort of romantic travelogue with a touch of politics, a touch of self-doubt, a touch of shame, and of course a healthy touch of hope. What this play is lacking is a large dose of character and action to balance out all the touches.
Mazand Bricks by Eva O’Connor, Directed by Jim Culleton
WITH: Eva O’Connor (Maz) and Ciaran O’Brien (Bricks).
The design team includes Maree Kearns (set and costume design); Sinead McKenna (lighting design); and Carl Kennedy (sound design).
59E59 Theaters (Val Day, Artistic Director; Brian Beirne, Managing Director) is thrilled to welcome the return of Ireland’s leading new play company Fishamble: The New Play Company with the US premiere of MAZ AND BRICKS, written by Eva O’Connor and directed by Jim Culleton. An official selection of the 2020 Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival, MAZ AND BRICKS through through Sunday, February 2.