Declan Conlon and Pauline McLynn in 'Greener' at the Gaiety. Photo: Pat Redmond

Declan Conlon and Pauline McLynn in 'Greener' at the Gaiety. Photo: Pat Redmond

Deirdre O'Kane in 'Greener' at the Gaiety. Photo: Pat Redmond

Deirdre O'Kane in 'Greener' at the Gaiety. Photo: Pat Redmond

Money isn’t everything, as far as Greener is concerned, but it’s certainly enough to air the true colours of one’s dirty laundry in public. The conclusion of the Dandelions trilogy, this play has everything and the kitchen sink (two, in fact). A double lottery win, a dangerous affair, a dead kitten and a missing brown wheelie bin are just a few mentionable ingredients thrown into the pot of Fiona Looney’s latest domestic concoction.

Best friends and next-door neighbours Jean O’Shea (Deirdre O’Kane) and Nóirín Dawson (Pauline McLynn) lead similar, if not parallel, lives side by side in their hideously wallpapered semi-d Dublin homes where together they share casual musings over coffee on Brad Pitt, BreastCheck, and the micro-organisms resident in teenagers’ gym bags. The kind of neighbourliness that leaves the back door open at all times may well invite the occasional crossing of lines and overstepping of marks, but before we know it, Nóirín is sleeping with Jean’s husband Colm (Declan Conlon), the neighbours are privy to Frank’s (Lorcan Cranitch) lottery win before his wife Nóirín is, Colm is keeping knowledge of Nóirín’s matching jackpot from Frank, while both Frank and Colm agree to let the truth about the kitten go without mention to the women. And it doesn’t stop there. In a cleverly reversing timeline assisted by projections of text messages onto the upstairs windows of the split-scene set, the dirges of domestic dysfunction are gradually played out in snappy duologues between McLynn and O’Kane, as well as in lengthier speeches and a soliloquy. Little advantage is taken by director Jimmy Fay, however, of the visually interesting potential posed by Vaněk’s cross section set of the adjoining kitchens, with only one occasion of a live event unfolding simultaneously for the audience.

Greener_sml.jpgWhile Looney provides a continuous helping of gags throughout the first act, the second follows as a disparate other half with the shift to the weightier stuff tipping the scales a little too abruptly for the majority of the audience, as was evident in the slightly inappropriate and untimely laughter heard during the beginning of the second half. That said, the succeeding act exhibits some of Looney’s sharper conversational prowess, as well as director Jimmy Fay’s knack for dramatic tension, most notably achieved between Conlon and McLynn. While McLynn flaunts her usual flare for rhythm and punch, she did, however, appear unintentionally awkward during a few of the physically affectionate moments with Conlon, a marked contrast to her effortless interactions with O’Kane. Nóirín’s son Davey (Ryan Andrews) adopts the role of the not-so-academically-inclined Leaving Cert student with ease and control, and Cranitch and Conlon exercise a comfortable command of the husband characters, while making sure not to upstage the women as the central characters of the play.

At a time when the thought of anyone other than ourselves (let alone two from the same family) winning the lotto turns you green, the notion that being better off without the money is a hard one to swallow. For Nóirín, the new car, the extension, even her best friend’s husband, simply isn’t enough. The grass may well be greener in Dalkey, but the truth (for Nóirín, at least) is that life by the sea will eventually rust your gate and turn the walls of your house pink. Whatever it is that forces her to remain as and where she is – since it has little to do with her uninspiring husband or her son who has an itch to emigrate – Nóirín has either made her greatest mistake or taken the control she has so long sought after in making the best decision of her life. As October has come and gone and there are no more dandelions, Looney’s conclusion seems to maintain that happiness is a more impossible dream than ever winning the lotto.

Jennifer Lee holds an MPhil in Theatre and Performance and is currently completing her doctoral research.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Greener by Fiona Looney

1 – 26 May, 2012

Produced by Landmark Productions
In the Gaiety Theatre

Directed by Jimmy Fay

Set Design: Joe Vaněk

Lighting Design: Sinéad McKenna

Music and Sound Design: Ivan Birthistle and Vincent Doherty

Costume Design: Joan O’Clery

With: Pauline McLynn, Deirdre O’Kane, Declan Conlon, Lorcan Cranitch and Ryan Andrews