Reviewed – 12th September 2018
“full of modern wit, with punchlines that accurately chime with modern dating tropes”
Ireland’s had a run of referenda in recent years that have been successfully socially progressive, putting the UK’s effort in that department to shame. Most recently the referendum overturning the abortion ban, but not forgetting the preceding referendum on legalising same-sex marriage in 2015. Although the 2015 referendum was won in favour of same-sex marriage, that still left 38% who voted ‘No’.
It’s in this environment that we’re introduced to Seán. Seán’s sister Sinead is getting married to his school mate Steve. But Sinead doesn’t want Seán’s boyfriend to take the attention off her at the wedding. Fortunately for them, Seán already broke up with him. But as Seán’s friend Calista points out to him, he shouldn’t be content with tolerance from his own family; he should expect acceptance. And that’s when they hatch a plan, Mean Girls style, to nab Seán a man so hunky, so English, so … Protestant, that his family will flip out and wish that they hadn’t told him to hide.
Cormac Elliott gives a tender portrayal as Seán, at once proud and ashamed of his sexuality, resulting from his repressive upbringing. More than a story of familial acceptance however, Elliott’s portrayal conveys another, more prosaic, narrative: the process of getting over an ex. The Eris of the title refers to the Greek god of chaos and strife, adjectives that accurately describe Seán’s internal struggles as much as those that play out in his relationships.
Eris is not the only influence taken from the Ancient Greeks. The piece is highly stylised, with a Greek chorus of four actors each stepping up to play mother, sister, friend and lover throughout. This can be jarring at times. There are two scenes where we see Seán on a string of online dates, pinning down a stooge date for the wedding. These start strong, conveying the sense of mania and unease typical of meeting people online. But the scenes drag on, becoming tedious as the amplified sound often muffles the dialogue. At its best however, Charlie Ferguson, Katherine Laheen, Clare McGrath and Ashling O’Shea all embody their respective parts and create an energetic atmosphere.
John King’s original script is full of modern wit, with punchlines that accurately chime with modern dating tropes. These are tied together by vignettes ranging from the intimate, as his mother recounts the morning of her own wedding (featuring toast and marmalade) to the bizarre, like when Seán takes a date to see the musical Cats, although he has a psychosomatic feline allergy. Or when Séan tries to broach the subject of his sisters wedding mid fellatio by talking about his Nana. These moments are when the piece is at its best, making for an evening of laughs and more touching moments extremely memorable.
Reviewed by Amber Woodward
Photography by Connor Harris
The Bunker until 28th September