A sour-sweet second of madness and murder lies at the heart of Moment, a slowly enthralling play by Deirdre Kinahan, co-presented at the Bush by Tall Tales and the Solstice Arts Centre of County Meath, that proves the old forces of guilt and grisly spiritual retribution are not dead in Irish drama; Eugene O’Neill walks abroad.
Mother is on the pills, sisters are at loggerheads, and black sheep brother’s on his way home with an English girl. But why is everyone so jumpy? Whose is the skeleton in the cupboard?
That of a twelve-year old girl, it transpires, best friend of elder sister Niamh Lynch (Maeve Fitzgerald) who’s warming up for the support role in The Beauty Queen of Leenane by caring for mother (Deirdre Donnelly), while nurse Ciara (Kate Nic Chonaonaigh) raises her own family with tiler Dave (Karl Quinn), and brother Nial (Ronan Leahy) re-builds his shattered life as a painter in London and Madrid.
Chickens come home to roost big time over the quiche and salads in a classic meal scene which erupts into raw truth-telling and projectile vomiting (perhaps don’t sit in the front row after all). It’s a slow build-up in David Horan's production, but the time bomb ticks away nicely, even though some of the acting is at times edgy and forced.
It’s an error, surely, to show the victim in soppy memorial flashback, and Aela O'Flynn's technically adroit talent show tease is more Bonnie Langford than the required Lolita siren. But the play remains gripping, with a new convulsion over the family savings and a desperate sense of a family bursting apart. There’s a lovely study in helpless devotion, too, from Will Joseph Irvine as Niamh’s boyfriend.