When I first lay eyes on the set of B(l)oom, written and directed by Trinity alumni William Dunleavy and Grace Morgan respectively, I am struck by the unusual set. A pair of bare feet is just visible, protruding over a plank of wood that rests on top of two metal barrels, which serve as the centre piece in a set assembled out of tangled green vines and haphazard scaffolding. A disembodied voice overhead lists off various locations that will come back to haunt us throughout the show. Despite the play being set in Dublin, the set gives me a strangely dystopian feeling – I am instantly drawn in, and I have a feeling what I’m about to see will be impactful.
The action begins and Heather O’Sullivan, one of the two incredible leading actors, immediately endears herself to the audience, expressing a naive charisma that contrasts wonderfully with her co-star, Laoise Murray, whose character appears to take a more sinister pleasure in the chaos and carnage unfolding around them.
The two women are dressed in stark primary colours that complement each other nicely while also ensuring they stand out from the more muted set. While both express commendable talent and an ability to draw audiences into their every word, I was most enraptured by the performance when they delivered lines simultaneously.
Very little action actually takes place on stage in the performance, leaving much up to the imagination of the audience. Dunleavy does not disappoint in this aspect, providing a clear-cut script with detailed descriptions of violent, harrowing accidents that leave the audience deeply disturbed and unsettled, without ever actually experiencing any graphic visuals. The two women take us on a journey through parts of Ireland and Dublin where they serve as passive bystanders, observing the chaos and disaster that seems to follow them everywhere they go, with a certain level of apathy and at times, it seems, even relish. The play, as a whole, deeply unnerved and yet thoroughly thrilled me – the combined charisma and talent of the writer, director and two leading actors made for an experience that was more like an ethereal fever dream than a simple viewing, in the best possible way.
B(l)oom will run in the New Theatre until 24 January with performances at 7.30pm and a 1pm matinee on Friday the 24th. Tickets are €18 or €16 for concessions.