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Continuity review at Finborough Theatre, London – ‘a charismatic and chilling performance’

Paul Kennedy in Continuity at the Finborough Theatre, London. Photo: Gary Wolf Paul Kennedy in Continuity at the Finborough Theatre, London. Photo: Gary Wolf

Taut but slow moving, Gerry Moynihan’s Continuity unfolds with a sort of purposeful predictability. Evoking the cycle of violence, vengeance, and grief which threatens to reignite sectarian conflict in Ireland, it tells the story of dissident republican Padraig, whose dedication to his cause is called into question when his own family is targeted.

Moynihan’s monologue – which had its first reading at the Finborough Theatre’s Vibrant festival last year – is leavened with laconic humour and naturally flowing Irish idiom, which counterbalances its occasional heavy-handed symbolism.

Paul Kennedy’s Padraig is a buoyant raconteur, reeling off patter one moment, regurgitating republican rhetoric the next. Later, learning the consequences of his violent acts, he viscerally struggles with his shame and bottled anger. At times, he drops into other personas – his fellow paramilitaries; his under-used Barcelonan lover – but these are shallow impressions by comparison.

Director Shane Dempsey explored the roots of Irish Republicanism in 2016’s epic Non Stop Connolly Show, but here the focus is more narrow and contemporary. Building some real tension into his production, Dempsey allows meaningful silences and unspoken threats to stew. Chairs stand in for characters whenever focal points are required, and these are variously threatened, brutalised, or confessed to with compelling intensity.

Anna Clock’s sound design features jittery electronic compositions incorporating samples ranging from news reports, to folk music, to a distorted burst of Madonna’s Into the Groove. Combined with fuzzy, flickering lighting by Steve Owens, the mood is appropriately edgy and uncomfortable, even when little actually happens.

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