City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

My Name is Saoirse, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Ken Wilson - Posted on 19 February 2016

Eva O'Connor as the troubled teen Saoirse
Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Sunday's Child
Hildegard Ryan (director), Dan Cummins (music)
Eva O'Connor
Running time: 

Saoirse fills her in the attic with her Singer electric making patchwork quilts. She fully recognises that this is a metaphor for her life: “you have good patches and you have bad patches, it’s up to you what you make of it”.

Saoirse is played by the pieces writer Eva O’Connor and is a strange creature in her school skirt, her flatties and an angora sweater that on anyone else would be sexy. But at 15 and living in Ireland in an all-male household poor, motherless Saoirse has a crush on her bestie Siobhan whose red hair and curves attract the boys like no one’s business.

Siobhan and Saoirse experiment with feminine wiles and all the “terrifying bits about growing up” and it becomes clear to all that Siobhan is a bad influence “who always left her mark – on school desks and men”.

Saoirse has no other female role model. She’s sometimes like a manic hobgoblin and, unfortunately, is a spit of her dead mother. Her dad can hardly bear to look at her. This is Catholic Ireland and although the flyer says its 1987 it could almost be 1957; the attitudes seem timeless.

Saoirse (pronounced see-ore-shah) means “freedom” – it’s the one thing the poor girl is most in danger of losing. For fans of Edna O’Brien all this will be slightly familiar, lilting blarney refracted through a teenage prism of sexual experimentation and easy-access bras, of prize snogging in Wilson’s bar and proving you are not a wet blanket (or as Siobhan has it “a dry shite”).

There’s a back alley tryst and the London abortion and then Saoirse is back in her sewing room beavering away on a quilt while the menfolk sleep. What saves things is Eva O’Connor’s crisp writing – as effervescent and exciting as a first sip of Lambrusco.

Eva O’Connor’s wonderfully physical performance – a monologue would suggest it’s dry and static – captures all the funny and heartrending growing pains of the hapless Saoirse. When the girl takes flowers to her mother’s grave she's convulsed, asking “why did you have to die and leave me?”.

You pray that this child/woman will find her way in the world, give up the quilting and reclaim her freedom.

Show times
Thursday 18 February
Friday 19 February
Saturday 20 February