Roisin Gallagher in Natural Disaster. Production Photo: Ciaran Bagnall
A rusty watering can. A tool box. Mucky boots. A dusty bench. Soil and dirt everywhere. The framework of a shed with a light but no visible roof. Wind and rain batters, bashes and bruises the structure without and tortures the soul within. Can they survive?
These are the memories, and the setting, for the unmatched visceral and emotional impact of Natural Disaster, written and performed by Roisin Gallagher and directed by Patrick J O'Reilly. This is a revelatory, courageous and grim work, shredding every device in the theatrical rule book to open minds and hearts with something incredibly raw and human. There is no melodrama, no artificiality... only one woman's recollections of her late father indelibly presented for the broken hearts and the teary eyes of a spellbound audience.
Natural Disaster is as much about holding on to the best of times as moving forward from the worst of times. Aided by O'Reilly's sensitive direction, Ciaran Bagnall's staggering imagery and Isaac Gibson's beautifully illustrative sound design, Gallagher's exceptionally interesting face, a gift to theatre, has never been put to better use than here, telling a story inspired by her own father's passing from terminal cancer. Few words are spoken, and few need to be, as regret, reflection, response, remorse and rebuilding around the illness, bereavement and aftermath of a life-changing loss ring deep and true in gritty, grimy surroundings.
The universality of the piece is unprecedented. Find, in this Natural Disaster, a dark inevitability no one wants to be prepared for but cannot escape - the sudden wrenching away of unconditional love and comfort. Where it is up to us to develop a sharper edge and new foundations. But also, find inspirational positivity from a brave and innovative survivor - who was and still is every bit as frightened as we have been and will ever be.
Natural Disaster runs in Belfast's MAC Theatre on Saturday March 16th, with performances at 3 pm and 8 pm. For more information click here.