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A CurtainUp Review
By Jenny Sandman
In an interview with The Guardianin London Mitchell described his play as having a universal theme: parenting. The parents of Trust, Geordie and Margaret, disagree over how their son should grow up. Geordie believes the boy should learn to stand on his own two feet and be a man. Margaret reckons it is the parents' job to protect their children at all costs and punish anyone who upsets them. They each attempt to undermine the other's authority, and eventually the trust of the title is betrayed and destroyed.
Trust is a picaresque kitchen sink drama in which a son's fight and a father's shady deal intertwine in frightening ways. Geordie, the father, is a UDA godfather in North Belfast (the Ulster Defense Association being a Loyalist terrorist group). He's trying to buy guns from a soldier-gone-bad while his wife is frantically trying find their son's bully. Jake is a shy, victimized fifteen-year-old who feigns headaches rather than face his tormentors at school. As Geordie pushes Jay to fight his own battles, Margaret enlists the help of a neighborhood thug to seek out the bullies. When Jake finally takes a stand, Margaret's plan backfires. She is forced to make a bitter choice between protecting her husband or her son and the action builds inexorably to a completely unexpected and almost terrifying climax.
The production itself moves slowly (perhaps due to the tongue-twisting, near-impenetrable Irish brogue). However, this does not detract from its being authentic and engrossing, qualities aided by some very fine performances.
Ritchie Coster plays Geordie as a quiet but dangerous powerhouse, a man who knows his place in the world. His natural stage presence highlights Geordie's role as the linchpin of the story with every other character acting in point or counterpoint to him. He has a formidable opponent in Fiona Gallagher's Margaret. Her ferocious mothering is of the type usually found only in nature programs. Colin Lane as Arty, Geordie's second-in-command, forms the final member of the power triumvirate. Lane's performance is more subtle than Coster's, but he's a powerful figure in his own right, and provides a nice contrast to the bumbling thug Trevor (Declan Mooney). The solider-gone-bad Vincent, ably played by Kevin Isola, is overshadowed by his conniving, hard-edged girlfriend Julie (Meredith Zinner). Interestingly, Jake (Dan McCabe) represents the story's most feminine element; he's also the only uncertain character, the only one not scheming.
Under Erica Schmidt's clever direction the cast forms a skilled ensemble. The director's stage transitions play up the story's inherent isolationism. The stage harshly lit with unnaturally bright light in between scenes and the actors continue their movements from the previous scene, oblivious to the light and the stagehands
Though play a more intimate setting would have been ideal, the Kirk Theatre's wide stage fits the production well. Too many plays these days are forced to make do with miniscule stages.
Jack Holland, Irish poet and journalist, once said, The tragedy of Northern Ireland is that it is now a society in which the dead console the living. While eminently watchable, Gary Mitchell's Trust, provides no consolation to be found, from either the dead or the living since even husband and wife can't trust each other.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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