The 4th Country ★★★ Park Theatre | Jan 12 - Feb 5, 2022


In his Poetics Aristotle proposed the theory of catharsis suggesting that art could serve as a means of purging emotions. In The 4th Country Kate Reid seems to explore the limits of drama in this regard. The attempt to render current events in Northern Ireland breaks down in the face of the cruelty of their reality. The horror of Bloody Sunday and the abortion laws become untranslatable into drama. The anger and division they inspire are left raw and unresolved. Art ultimately cannot convey or provide relief from the tragedy. It is a powerful statement which the talented company do a credible job of presenting, but it can seem rather unsatisfying. While the evolution of Northern Ireland is certainly a work in progress, the unresolved nature of the play, although intentional, undermines the the audience's engagement from the characters and from the subject. The ending seems abrupt and unprepared for. The cast is generally strong. Rachael Rooney and Cormac Elliott create a completely believable relationship as brother and sister Conor and Niamh. Aoife Kennan successfully individuates her two roles as Anna and Shona, and Kate Reid does a fine job as the ubiquitous Melanie. The staging of the show seemed unadapted to the venue and the cast performed the show as if they were not always aware of the audience on the sides. This challenging look at the modern history of Northern Ireland is well worth a viewing. It offers a clever presentation of emotions and situations so close and so painful they border on being unable to be incorporated into a drama.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Douet.

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