The newly formed Twisted Peasant Productions are hoping to firmly establish their reputation with Making Lemonade, a one-woman show set to highlight the prominence of gun culture within the city. The brainchild of Sylvia Beatley, Making Lemonade is an hour-long, one-woman show. Though sometimes making for uncomfortable viewing (tip: don’t pop down with your ma and pa) the portrait painted is not an exclusively bleak one, with plenty of witticisms throughout. The size of the New Theatre lends itself to quite an intimate relationship with the protagonist, Blade, who sizes up each member of the audience as they locate their seats, and maintains an aggressively prolonged eye-contact with each of them. If anything, it’s a relief when darkness falls, and the play begins in earnest.
It wouldn’t be fair to say that over the course of the play, Blade becomes a likeable character, but his retelling of his Friday routine certainly becomes a source of entertainment. Blade swings from immediately hostile (so much so that on Tuesday night, his demanding stares and accompanying accusative rhetorical questions actually garnered a response from one theatregoer), to later, disgustingly over familiar. This intimacy with the audience however, means that a clear picture of Blade, and his thoughts, fears and motivations, is almost immediately accessible.
Beatley’s performance is not one to be glossed over. Her portrayal of Blade is unnervingly believable, gritty certainly, but on the whole brilliant, give or take a few expressions that err on the side of the farcical. She slips with ease from Blade (who must be an altogether exhausting alias), to those he meets along the way, from the estranged love-interest Priscilla, to his father, son, and later his arch-enemies, with their unwavering determination to disrupt that sacred routine he holds so dear. It might be asked as to whether a real-life Blade would warm to Beatley’s impersonation, or even empathise with his string of untimely decisions. Certainly, the physicality of her character is a constant reminder as to his bruteish masculinity – Beatley’s own gender soon forgotten. Though the set was understated, it did give way to a few cleverly choreographed moments, like a shadow roof sequence, the effect of which only served to reinforce Beatley’s convincing mimes. There is something palpable about this dramatic day-in-the-life that makes it definitely worth popping down to over the remainder of its brief run, and that sets Twisted Peasant Productions up as a company that might well go on to excel in the theatrical domain that favours the seemingly unsavoury.
Making Lemonade is at The New Theatre until Saturday May 18. Tickets are €15/12/10.