Studio Theatre’s production of “Moment,” written by Deirdre Kinahan and directed by Ethan McSweeny, invites its audience into the intimacy of an Irish family’s silent struggle just as it’s about to explode.
Most of the action takes place around the kitchen table of the Lynch’s modest home in a Dublin suburb. If you were a visitor dropping in on the Lynch’s and you were a vegetarian, you had the feeling that Mrs. Lynch would prepare baked potatoes, fried potatoes and mashed potatoes. Nothing fancy but practical and thoughtful nonetheless. The Lynch’s have been going through the motions of life—getting married, having kids, working jobs but only one of them is really living, and that’s Nial (played by Peter Albrink).
Nial is the only one who left home, left the country and his two sisters believe, left behind the baggage from a heinous crime he committed, for them to carry. When the audience meets Nial though, we are introduced to a pretty cool guy. The rehabilitated criminal turned abstract artist prances in with his beautiful British wife Ruth (played by Hannah Yelland) and if it was a matter of choosing sides, you’d probably be leaning toward the prodigal son. While his incarceration tore him from home, he was fortunate to find redemption for the crime he committed that his family, who only moved across town, never dealt with. Gathered around the kitchen table for tea, 17 years later, we see the effects unfold that this event had on the family.
Dave (played by Ciaran Byrne), who is married to the older Lynch daughter Ciara (played by Caroline Bootle) jumps into the evening’s festivities without any apprehension. Dave is thirsty for a beer, happy to give a hug and will go along with whatever flow he finds so you never have to face an awkward moment alone. The enthusiasm that Byrne brings to this role is the icebreaker the audience needs to feel invited to join the larger conversation around the table.
Niamh Lynch (played by Emily Landham) does almost the opposite. Her cutting personality, the effect of an unhealed wound, makes you want to tiptoe away from her. Yet, you hang on her words and her movements as she dangles the possibility of her seeing beyond her own dark, narrow world. If you do get close though, like her doting boyfriend Fin (played by Avery Clark) you’d only be certain of a Sisyphusian engagement and it would be best not to offer to help her lift her rock as she is incapable of accepting herself and suspect of anyone who would lend her a hand.
Mrs. Lynch (played by Dearbhla Molloy) has internalized life’s emotions so wholly—love, sadness, betrayal—and it has taken a toll on her but has not rendered her as helpless as her daughters think. Molloy transforms her character with only a couple barrettes and a little rouge, overjoyed by the news of her son’s return, certain that her years of hoping for this moment were not in vain.
The actors are so perfectly in sync throughout the show but it’s most apparent when in the midst of a manic shouting match near the end, the audience is pulled into the emotional tirade and this moment is the only one that exists.
Moment is playing at the Studio Theatre, 1501 14th Street, Washington DC 20005, through April 24th. For more information and tickets click here.