Arts

Iron (New Theatre)

A promising beginning to the New Theatre season, Iron is an absorbing production whose cast never put a foot wrong.

Within the claustrophobic confines of the prison visitors’ room a difficult reunion takes place between an inmate mother and the estranged daughter whose father she murdered fifteen years before. Michelle Ghatan’s Fay is absolutely compelling: a nervy prisoner riddled with demons, but whose underlying liveliness and humanity remind us of the woman she once was. While Fay strains to hold memory at bay in search of peace, her daughter is haunted by the past she cannot remember and the insubstantial nature of her drifting life. They are bonded by mutual need: Fay by a hunger for a vicarious life of youth and pleasure, her daughter by a need to make sense of her father’s murder. But with such expectations, can they truly save each other? Will unearthing the past begin the healing process or simply open old wounds?

Framing the story are the prison guards, whose own commentary on the action shades our view of the characters, as well as interestingly counter-pointing the action with their own stories. With wonderful performances and a thoughtful story, this play cannot fail to hold you with a grip of iron.

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3 Comments on this post.
  • James
    4 March 2006 at 12:48
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    In some ways — particularly given the lack of action — it’s a difficult play to perform. To draw the audience in, the cast has to produce a real sense of progress and momentum; I don’t think the relationship between mother and daughter showed much development through the play. Somehow, the denouement fell rather flat. Not terribly engaging.

  • Jessica
    16 March 2006 at 00:35
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    Even though I’m shamelessly bias (I was the producer), I feel that the lack of action throughout the play is precisely what causes such a disturbing and claustrophobic atmosphere that is one of the play’s main strengths. It makes us question the justice of life imprisonment, where so little action, even the basic right to touch another human being, is taken away. The drama of the piece is in the script, and Munro’s background and talent in writing radio plays is obvious here. I feel the almost murder-mystery quality of the words and storyline more than compensate for lack of action, and makes the action, when it does come, all the more resounding.

  • James
    16 March 2006 at 12:17
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    I don’t have any problem with the script: it’s a play I like very much. Obviously it’s not action-heavy, but consequently much rests on the interaction between Fay and Josie, and I felt that there was surprisingly little progress in this. For example: at the beginning of the second act, the two have been visiting with each other weekly for six months; I’d expect an easy, natural flow between them. But Josie was as stiff and uncomfortable then as at the beginning of the first act. The characterization was slightly schizophrenic, and I found it hard to understand her motivations at times.

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