The lights slowly brighten on the stage, revealing a cozy kitchen scene to the audience. Tea is quietly brewing, the table is set and a familial gathering seems imminent.
Enter Niamh Lynch, played by Emily Landham, the play’s scorned protagonist. She rushes to check on her ailing mother, scolding her for neglecting her medication. Conversation is terse, yet casual until Mrs. Lynch reveals her estranged son and Niamh’s brother will be arriving shortly.
To say Niamh overreacts is an understatement.
Written by Deirdre Kinahan and directed by Helen Hayes and Ethan McSweeny, Moment is set in a small suburb outside Dublin. This production tells the story of an Irish family with a troubled past, centering around the adolescent criminal actions of Nial Lynch, played by accomplished play and television actor Peter Albrink.
In order to make amends with his family and move on with his life, Nial must face demons from his past—demons he created. Specifically, Nial must face his two sisters, Niamh and Kira. Although Kira seems much more understanding, like Niamh, she still desires answers about Nial’s past actions.
Nial’s mother Teresa, played by Dearbhla Molloy, is overly sympathetic to her son, favoring him over her two loving, ever-present daughters. This tension, along with Nial’s estrangement, fuels the main conflict of the play.
Throughout the rising action, the audience sat in rapt attention to the story unfolding before them, much of which revolved around the thoughts and feelings of the female characters.
Jim Bowland, D.C. resident, said, “I think the female characters are wonderful in this play. [It was] very reminiscent of Ireland where I grew up. I grew up in the west of Ireland, but I lived in Dublin for a few years too. I’m enjoying [the play] very much, I recommend it to all.”
Bowland even spoke of the actors’ accents, validating their authenticity as an Irishmen.
“They really captured the background of the mother who loves everyone but doesn’t really help anybody … she’s pretty incapable,” Jean Bowland said. “[There’s] a lot of movement going on throughout the play which to me is amazing. It’s interesting, very authentic.”
Bowland also expressed her love of the strong female characters in the play. “It’s a treat. Maybe that’s the reflection of a woman playwright.”
“I think the acting is very good across the board. You get this rising tension from the daughter … she’s negative to everybody,” D.C. resident and season ticket holder Kate Patterson said.“And the longer she’s there, the more negative and the more tension she creates until it explodes at the end of act one.”
This is McSweeny’s debut as a director, and he’s been nominated for a Tony Award—well deserved in my opinion.
However, like other audience members, I believe the real star here is Kinahan.
The playwright did a phenomenal job of creating complex, dynamic characters. No one character was the hero, either; they all had their faults, whether it was Nial’s history of crime and malice or Niamh’s inability to forgive her brother and accept the past.
I was enthralled with each scene and each piece of dialogue. The rapport was quick, witty and at some points unreasonable, reminding me of conflicts between my own family members. This fast-paced, aggressive drama left me yearning for more and begged the question: is it truly possible to forgive and forget?
After seeing Moment, I’m not too sure.
Featured Photo Credit: Dearbhla Molloy, Avery Clark, Peter Albrink, and Emily Landham in Moment at Studio Theatre. (Photo by Igor Dmitry.
Shelby Soliwoda is a freshman broadcast journalism major and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.