Portia Coughlan, Almeida Theatre Kathy Kiera Clarke and Alison Oliver Credit. Marc Brenner
Carrie Cracknell (Oil; The Deep Blue Sea) has made a triumphant return to London’s Almeida Theatre to direct Alison Oliver in ‘Portia Coughlan’, Marina Carr’s modern Irish classic examining themes of obsession and destructive family units. Emerging talent Alison Oliver is best known for her breakout debut role in ‘Conversations with Friends’, and she was included in Variety’s 2023 ’10 Actors to watch’.
Central character Portia is tormented by the death of her twin Gabriel, who drowned in a river 15 years previously. This tragedy continues to haunt Portia, and despite on the surface having a nice life, married to the wealthiest guy in town, she careers through life making a series of bad choices and rejecting the people that love her. The play is set on Portia’s 30th birthday, which should be a day for celebrations and family gatherings, but instead sets the scene for a woman unraveling.
Cracknell’s revival of the heart-wrenching play is helmed by Alison Oliver’s haunted and nuanced performance, supported by a talented cast who all speak in an Irish Midlands dialect. Guy Hoare’s minimal lighting and a living room set designed by Alex Eales to veer between domesticity and a grey dystopian landscape, combine to create a ghostly atmosphere. At the heart of the play are themes of motherhood, domestic abuse, loss, incest and infidelity through the lens of a patriarchal society.
“There’s a wolf tooth growin in me heart and it’s turnin me from everywan and everthin I am.”
The cast includes; Alison Oliver, Kathy Kiera Clarke, Sorcha Cusack, Charlie Kelly, Conor MacNeill, Sadhbh Malin, Fergal McElherron, Mairead McKinley, Mark O’Halloran, Chris Walley and Archee Aitch Wylie.
The production opened on Tuesday 17 October and runs until Saturday 18 November: