Audience Review - Little Gem

March 20, 2015

Audience Member Carmel Hogan is back again with another fantastic review, this time for 'Little Gem' ...


We saw Little Gem at Draiocht on Friday, 13th March 2015. I know people say Friday 13th is an unlucky day, but for us, this year, it was an especially good one. 

The play is a beautifully crafted piece of writing. It incorporates humour (of the laughing out loud variety!), pathos (tears were shed), insight (Elaine Murphy knows how women think) and the mundanity of life. The three characters on stage in the play are superbly drawn. The off screen characters – stroke-ridden Gem, Ray, the drug addict, Paul – the Deb’s partner and on-off boyfriend, as well as the new Salsa partner/love interest, Neil, and the other transitory characters are all so well drawn that their absence from the stage is not noticed at all. 

Her decision to give the positive attitude to and experience of sex to Kay, the grandmother, was pure genius as so many younger people think sex was invented by their generation. We laughed till we cried at the introduction of Kermit – (I won’t go into any more detail as this aspect of the play really has to be experienced in order to get the full benefit. So find out where Little Gem is playing and book seats now!) Kay’s wisdom and generous spirit were inspirational and the fact that she still loved and cherished her husband was a delight. 

The youngest character, Amber, broke my heart. She thinks she’s so cool and so on top of it all. Whereas from my perspective, she was tragically overindulging in all sorts of ways which would greatly limit her future life. Life happened to her rather than her taking decisions on what she wanted from it. She had it all – she was beautiful, bright if not very intellectual – but unevolved – and despite the limitations, we see that she has a support network that would be the envy of many. So while the actress had terrific comic timing and created an unforgettable image of the young, chaotic life of Amber, she left a sadness in our hearts which lingers. 

Lorraine, her Mam and daughter of Kay, grabbed our hearts with her description of her obsessive irritation at work. We’ve all seen “The Wrecker” in shops, but Lorraine was the one who had to clear up the havoc after her. Her brittleness was so acute that even the superior “Suit” and “Woman from HR” saw through it to her vulnerability. Considering her life experience, Lorraine is a hero to actually get out of bed at all. While the descriptions of “Counselling” made us laugh, it also rang true and, thankfully, Lorraine really tried to follow the recommendations and “do something nice for herself”. This led her through the Salsa night to a whole new positive experience of a man who actually cared about her and despite angst, saw a woman who blossomed like a flower when loved. The “sex scene” made us wince through our laughter as anyone will know who has had a relationship end and has to think about “being with someone new”.

Elaine Murphy’s play is sharp, funny and thought provoking. The casting was so appropriate that the characters of Amber, Lorraine and Kay came to life in front of us. Draiocht is an excellent venue as despite its capacity, everyone is close enough to the stage to see the expressions on the faces and to hear the voices without excessive amplification. 

Once again, Draiocht’s impeccable record of excellent theatre production remains unbroken! 

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