Two Irish sisters, one weekend… and a very dark yet poignant comedy. Sinead comes to spend the weekend at her big sister Ciara’s £950-a-month flat in London. Ciara thinks Sinead wants to spend time with her and catch up. But there’s a catch – Sinead has brought their Mam. And the cat!
Mam has early-onset Alzheimer’s; it is getting worse, making her more and more aggressive and difficult. Sinead has become her full-time carer and is understandably exhausted and emotional. Ciara, on the other hand, is ‘hiding away’ in London. Neither can afford a care home, and Mam doesn’t even own her own house in Ireland.
The situation is dire. Perhaps the only sensible option to reclaim their lives is by killing their own mother, using a pillow. Or maybe pills? The sisters are at their wits' end, and a bit like Jimmy Porter committing patricide in Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, the girls start to plot the murder. No, make that "euthanasia" – they refer to it as "assisted suicide". Their relationship with guilt and Catholicism is hilarious too.
Both Sarah Madden and Eimear O’Riordan are excellent on stage – they have fine camaraderie and comic timing. Their story is supplemented by a host of further characters, all played by the stand-out-brilliant Kate Kennedy. Whether Kennedy is playing a barista, zoo keeper, lawyer, doctor, or even personal trainer and spiritual healer, she is absolutely on point and totally believable in every one of these cameos.
This is unashamed comedy, making light of a terrible condition. But in laughing about it, it brings to stark light the plight of carers: how they suffer, and the minimal support from the state for people at the end of their tether. How do you care for someone who is supposed to care for you? And although we never see Mam, and she only says two words at the very end, they may be the ones that matter the most. An excellent comedy by Erica Murray.