Love 2.0 produced by thisispopbaby at the Project is a little gem. Two slices of modern life, a showcase for the writing skills of two promising young writers. Both short plays emerged on the encouragement of the Abbey Theatre in March, and it is great to see them get a production so soon like this. Both are written in a naturalistic style, exploring with great economy relational dynamics and sexual entanglements. I wonder, however, given how television has cornered the market on naturalistic drama, whether they are essentially theatrical. Are these plays merely calling cards to TV producers looking for new writing talent? If so, they are really good ones.
The first, Two Houses by Belinda McKeon, unusually, and fascinatingly, is a two-hander between a 30-year-old brother, Eamon (Brendan McCormack) rolling in from the pub late at night, and his 16-year-old sister (Jenn Murray) having internet chats on Bebo, and it is at once a glimpse of a teenage girl’s awakening to the realities of life as it is an American Beauty-like exposition of a man’s folly.
The second piece, Investment Potential by Philip McMahon, gripped me. It wasn’t so much in the story, which was deftly and intriguingly told, but in the character of Anne, played with depth by Kathy Kiera Clarke. Sometimes good writing is not just about telling a story, it’s about breathing life into a fascinating original character. She is sunk in a depression that is all too real; a deadness inside, a stultifying anhedonia, a heart that needs healing; and yet she purrs with a deadpan humour. Three scenes, told in a disjointed chronology, map out her romantic relationship with bookstore manager Brendan (McCormack again, winningly versatile). There’s more to Anne’s story than this play can tell, and I’d love to see it.