Forever Yours, Mary–Lou
by Michael Tremblay
Translated by Michael West
Lawrence Boswell directs the second play in The Ustinov Studio’s Season of French-Canadian Drama. Forever Yours, Mary Lou is a brutal and unforgiving insight into a family torn apart by brutality, poverty and hardship widely considered to be a masterpiece in Canadian drama.
This translation by Michael West shifts the setting to Ireland, the language is harsh and the characters gritty. The action takes place ten years after a family tragedy when two estranged sisters meet. Carmen now sings Country and Western in a cheap night-club; Mandy is devout, reclusive and haunted by the past. As they struggle to reconcile their versions of what happened, we listen in on their parents, Mary-Louise and Liam, as breakfast goes downhill and arguments intensify on the morning of the tragedy.
The cast of four are onstage throughout and true to Tremblay’s writing the audience remain observers of a play rather than seeing a creation of a naturalistic world for the characters to inhabit.
It is a strong and gutsy piece and the women dominate proceedings. Nothing is taboo. Mary Lou (Catriona Ni Mhurchu) is defiant, protecting her family to the last from the verbal and physical violence of Liam (Paul Loughran) they spar and trade insults picking over the bones of their loveless marriage. Whilst Carmen (Caoilfhionn Dunne) brings a breath of optimism having escaped to a life where she can be happy, admired and sexually free. Whilst her sister, Mandy, (Amy Mcallister) remains trapped by the ghosts from her childhood and seems unlikely to break free.
These are all excellent performances, there is some humour in the play but the voices of these beleaguered and troubled souls haunt the space with a desperate sense of loss and sadness.
**** – 4 Stars