Week One Reviews – Pre-Ops

‘Pre-Ops’ at The Ireland Institute until Saturday May 11th at 9pm, and 4pm matinee on Saturday. 

The Festival brochure states that ‘Pre-Ops’ was awarded an IDGTF Bursary for new irish LGBT writing. If this is the standard produced by these bursaries, then it was money well spent. Writer/Director Ezra Maloney creates a clever and engaging mechanism to tackle a controversial subject about women and trans women. 

We are posited in the waiting room of a hospital where both Fiachra and Helen are waiting for a hysterectomy, but for very different reasons. Maloney doesn’t just rely on this ‘difference’ to draw out the views and experiences of people all pressured by a shortage of services. Do we blame the people of fix the shortage?

Maloney also uses ‘difference’ in class and nationality as well as gender, to tease out the many reasons opinions are dividable in a pressurised society. Molly Whelan gave us a concentrated and strong ‘Helen’ a complex woman dealing with many issues other than her health. She has always felt a woman apart. Ianto Beckham-Lynch as ‘Fiachra’ is about as best a contrast to Helen possible to create. These ‘clash of cultures’ are teased out in a 55 minute unfolding drama that neither loses focus, nor our keen attention, in its deliberate pace and strong performances. Tain Swayne plays a most knowledgeable Nurse to complete the talented on-stage trio. 

There are lots of new Irish companies in this year’s festival. If Maloney’s work is a testament to the standard of their anticipated contribution, then the future is very bright indeed. An intelligent theatrical construct that doesn’t pull its punches on controversial subjects, which you may not always agree with – but that is another role of theatre Maloney’s discourse serves well. ‘Pre-ops’ is a hugely impressive festival debut. GF 


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