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KillyMuck review at Underbelly Bristo Square, Edinburgh – ‘powerful monologue about poverty and class’

Aoife Lennon in KillyMuck. Photo: Javier Ortega Saez Aoife Lennon in KillyMuck. Photo: Javier Ortega Saez
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When it’s good, this is what the fringe excels at: a really tightly written, deftly performed monologue. And this is good.

Growing up on a housing estate in Enniskillen, Niamh is not as clever as her sister. She gets into detention pretty much every day, her family is poor and her dad’s an alcoholic.

Sometimes, as Aoife Lennon compellingly performs Kat Woods’ script, this feels like a big shaggy dog story, moving seamlessly from one episode in Niamh’s life to another: babysitting for the prostitute next door, getting bullied by some local boys, not getting into the grammar school.

But each of these episodes feeds into a bigger, troubling point about class. It’s so ingrained, and so much of society is set up against the possibility of social mobility.

Intermittently Lennon breaks out from her narration and moves instead into a commentary on the story. She goes to a mic by the side of the stage and adopts a drier, more lecturing tone full of statistics.

Those moments of meta-narrative are pretty powerful. Woods knows it’s not enough to simply tell a story. Poverty, and the fact it’s bound up in a lack of education, access to culture, high suicide rates and high rates of addiction, have been ignored for too long.

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Powerful monologue by Kat Woods about poverty and class in Northern Ireland