Jack Studio Theatre – until 13 May 2023
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Áine Ryan’s haunting and gripping monologue is unmissable. Alone in the kitchen of the home she shares with her dying father, Kitty slowly reveals details of her life leading up to this night as she waits for her boyfriend to pick her up to take her to the pageant. Kitty’s opportunistic friend Salisha – the only other girl in her class – is the polar opposite of Kitty and is competing in the pageant. An eye catching large box containing a present Kitty wants to give to Salisha at the crowning ceremony.
The lane of the title is the two-mile lane that leads from the house to the nearest road. Mocked and sometimes abused by the locals, Kitty is isolated geographically and emotionally, mourning the death of her beloved brother with little solace from those few people she sees. Ryan skilfully builds a picture of an isolated woman, sharing a bed with her brother into adulthood and living a monotonous, life working on the farm under the control of an unloving and domineering father, who had cameras installed around the farm and house to maintain his power when he became bedridden.
Florence Hand’s sound direction is exquisite – strains of violin music continuously tormenting/reminding Kitty of the violin she played before her father’s unthinking cruelty stopped her. Constance Comparot’s set and Alex Forey’s lighting change the atmosphere from stark to mystical and dreamlike effortlessly with Jack Reardon’s assured direction.
Ryan’s playfulness with structure and language enhances the sense of isolation and otherworldliness of Kitty, with some beautiful phrases and wonderful Irish vernacular. Ryan inhabits the character brilliantly in her delivery and the physicality of her performance – convincingly innocent, reckless, devious, traumatised and full of animalistic anger throughout the play. The anecdotes of abuse and unfairness in Kitty’s life scattered throughout the monologue are told with fury, followed by moments of silence that are far more affecting than any words of explanation. Moments of brutality and shocking loss build into a satisfyingly frenzied finale that is horrifying and heart breaking – simply stunning.