City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Mary and Me, Paradise in the Vault, Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 10 August 2017

Mary and Me
Show details
The Vault
Wild Productions
Running time: 
Irene Kelleher (writer), Belinda Wild (director), Cormac O' Connor (sound designer) and Alan Mooney (lighting director).
Irene Kelleher.

Hannah repeats Pythagorean theorem to the secular sounds of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” as she enters the grotto.

She is here to seek the help of Madonna, or more correctly Mary the Blessed Virgin. With a rushed Hail Mary, she seeks her intercession with a maths exam. Without a pass she is dead at the hands of one of the convent school Sisters, or at least her beloved art class will be in jeopardy. She has a Women of Strength project in mind, a drawing incorporating the saints, Amy Johnson and perhaps Bonnie Tyler.

Hannah has big dreams, of taking wings and being a pilot, of being far away from this sleepy town. But Hannah would rather tell these things to Mary than her mother or her friends. Mary is sure to understand, being a girl once, before she was a statue. She must hear all kinds of secrets, voiced more freely here than in the confessional box.

There is no room to think at home and little privacy, as nothing is sacred under the gaze of the local blue rinse brigade. The spirited Hannah has difficulty in accepting that this is all that life offers and fitting in. A trip to see her sister in busier Dublin reinforces her disquiet with the village, its hypocritical institutions and stark choices. When she misses her periods maybe she is being set up for sainthood.

As rumours fly and tensions rise she is obviously in trouble, but becomes seemingly miraculously invisible and it appears that no-one will wake up until it’s too late.

Kelleher’s performance is riveting as she wrings every emotion from her own script in this outstanding solo show. Its neatly constructed to allow her “confessions” to shed light both on her own feelings and on the repressive reality. Only a section where she impersonates the school’s nuns (while it demonstrates her playful, headstrong nature and care for her younger sister) feels a little at odds. Clever, simple staging and excellent sound design provide atmosphere.

You could not pray to see much better in this Fringe.

Show Times: 5 to 27 (not 13, 20) August 2017 at 12.55pm

Tickets: £11 (£9) (£28 family)

Suitability: 12+