“I would stop, I would stop, I would stop fucking talking if I ever heard anyone else say anything worth fucking stopping talking for” – Susan Traherne’s hysteric outbreaks reverberate throughout David Hare’s Plenty.
A former Special Operations Executive courier during World War II, Susan’s words encompass the uneasiness of a woman whose promising past proves a stark contrast to her mundane present. While this predicament causes Susan to descend into an abyss of instability and neuroticism, her character retains its enticing, witty, and slightly perverse charms.The play hightlights the poignant transition into a life without obvious meaning or purpose.
Despite being set in the post-war era, the play will be a far cry from a history lesson. Nor is it a traditional narrative, however. Plenty is set in a realm of disillusionment and destruction, with Susan’s story spanning almost two decades, pieced together through an achronological sequence of scenes. Director Luke Howarth’s ability to transcend the play’s disjointed time sequence is a small feat in comparison to his ability to create such a thought-provoking performance.
The play’s intense realism and believability is undoubtedly what will make it most enticing. It would, however, be impossible to achieve such an effect were it not for the outstanding performance of the actors.
Susan, played by Gráinne O’Mahony, is at the play’s centre, yet the other characters promise equally engaging performances. Every member of the cast and crew has appeared in numerous productions; however, more notable than their long list of credentials is their intense commitment to this production. Their effort is apparent in the playful interactions between Susan and her friend Alice Park, played by Aoife Cantrill, as well as in the manner in which Susan’s husband, played by Andrew Dickinson, tolerates his wife’s unapologetic remarks.
The production will rely on its actors’ ability to render the sentiments of post-war disillusionment, but it is not entirely without spectacle: gunshots, parachutes, and nudity will all feature. But, most of all, there is a perfected emotion that overshadows these effects and gives the play a poignancy that is extremely difficult to achieve, but will be brilliant to watch.