A string of fairy lights and hope in the future brought the fun of the fair to the closing moments of The Carousel. Now there are flickering votive candles and an altarpiece to pray by. The Woman’s mother is dying, and wants to see her son; he doesn’t want to see her and will not make the journey.
The Deliverance should be an angry piece. Women deserve to be free of men who abuse and hurt them. Even the good ones, like the Woman’s father, go away. She is left with a step-father, Rémy, who yells in her face that she has ‘shit for brains’ and clears off with his son at the first opportunity. That’s the half-brother who hangs up when the Woman calls about their mother.
The Deliverance could be bitter, but it is not. If anything, as it’s set in a church, it looks for fortitude and understanding – and if ever forbearance creates drama, then this is it. The slew of memories that centre upon the ill-treatment the Woman suffered from Rémy gives way, briefly but ecstatically, to remembering when she was away at University and discovered that men read books too. Unfortunately – you know it and she doesn’t – her professor has a smutty reading list in mind.
So it is a passive close. There is no tirade against misogyny, and no bedside reconciliation between mother and son. There is simply a Woman in a quilted jacket who accounts for her past, longs for the best and – in the meantime – settles for what she has.
There could be a fourth play in the wings, I guess. Where’s the story of the Woman’s husband? I’d welcome it. He’s mentioned in The List and then vanishes, arguably with his briefcase and cell phone. Perhaps, again, that is the thematic line. Men have their cares elsewhere, and women are the only mothers.
I saw The Carousel and The Deliverance on the same day and The List a week earlier. Each can work by itself and be seen in any order, but there is no doubting the emotional ties that hold the plays together and how one resonates with the other. And when asked about heartfelt performance, Maureen Beattie does it for me.