A tower of chairs carefully balanced in an arc reaches into the sky, a toppling glued construction which threatens to fall at any moment. While there is an inherent theatricality in Claire Halleran’s design, the powerful symbolism of the chairs frames the piece: the ever-precarious situation of a life spent compiling domesticity, the way that nests can so easily blow away, and building a home that is never free from anxiety – and this as a strong constant presence while lives and text fragment round about.
The performance is composed of four intersecting monologues given by four women from different eras in the 20th century. The characters – not named – have a sense of universality which gives the play a placeless feel. The concerns of each woman vary but the central themes of the title echo throughout, as tales of motherhood follow tales of domestic abuse follow tales of sex follow tales of death.
Mostly though, the performance poses questions of what it is to be a woman. Avoiding becoming a diatribe, Linda McLean’s text is precise and neat. The rhythms and tones of the text are succinctly executed – melodies and harmonies mould together perfectly; each story peaking and falling at different points in the text.
The performance exists both as a musical event- the voice with all its cadences taking the viewer on a musical journey- and as a series of stories. The women’s desire to share their stories with the audience was tangible; each actress fully invested in the character and each character vigorous in her delivery. The crux of this performance lies in the text, in which lives a palpable sense of frustration and containment – fitting for a play with a strong feminist undertone which reminds us that, as a society, what we’ve achieved so far can always come tumbling down.