Maz and Bricks meet on the tram on the way into Dublin. Maz is working on her placard for the reproductive rights rally; Bricks is a jack-the-lad, heading to pick up his small daughter from her mother’s for a day out. Full of chat, he hasn’t really thought about abortion, but instinctively he’s against it. As their days fail to go to plan, their lives intersect again and they have a profound impact on each other.
Eva O’Connor (who also plays Maz) has written an audacious and multi-layered script, which bravely allows Maz to make emotional declamatory speeches while Bricks teases and satirizes her. Of course he eventually comes round to her way of thinking on the issue in question – the repeal of the 8th, the constitutional amendment that virtually outlawed abortion in Ireland. But O’Connor constantly subverts our expectations, refusing to take the easy sentimental way out; and every time she does so, I’m left thinking – of course, how could it have been any other way?
Maz is no angel. She may be on the right side of this debate, but there is a righteous aspect to her personality, and her seemingly collected life is actually as messed-up as Bricks'; some of her actions are extreme and dangerous, both to herself and others. Ciaran O’Brien as Bricks is also fantastic: a force of nature, but a complex man beneath the fun-loving exterior – a man versed in tragedy, prepared to face it, but with his own blind-spots and prejudices.
Every trope is messed with. While Bricks’ relationship with his daughter allows us to see him as a more responsible character, even the innocence with which she views the world cannot stand eulogised, as Maz challenges him on what happens when she grows up, gets messy, and isn’t quite the sweet young thing anymore.
The dialogue between them is fast, witty and spot-on; while the soliloquies are in verse, addressed confrontationally direct to the audience. At eighty minutes, it's longer than the average Fringe play, but the energy doesn’t flag. The story moves on to ever more interesting places, and our attention doesn’t waver.
The specificity of the script to Dublin – the references to its streets, Gaelic football, and rivalries with Cork – help root the play in a time and place, making the issues feel real and therefore universal. The set design of a couple of box-stools is perfect for intimate settings like the tram or the pub, while a raised platform along the back is put to good use in creating a sense of scale and adventure in the city, as they scarper from an enraged hen party.
O’Connor has written an issue-led play, one that toured in the run-up to the Repeal The 8th Referendum. But it's also a play that transcends those issues – to explore how we are damaged by the things that happen to us, how we struggle to overcome them, and how we can help each other.