When you’ve stepped out of a traumatising situation do you really start to comprehend the experiences you’ve gone through – for victims of domestic abuse, the emotional and psychological toll can prove overwhelming to process. Victims often fearful and shrouded in shame, male domestic abuse a sad underreported reality due to the misconception of men not being victims. Bravely exploring this sensitive subject matter, Ronan Dempsey presents The Words Are There, a necessary, unfiltered observation of the insidious nature of domestic abuse and how it very slowly takes away a victim’s light.
Toilet roll sprawled across the ground, spells out the band ‘Trish’, this symbolic gesture accompanies a scattered home based scene, a small wooden table that collapses as a wine bottle is plonked onto it, an antiquated coat hanger taking on the imposing spirit of the name detailed on the ground, as Mick (Dempsey) animates the inanimate – the interdependent nature of Mick – the puppeteer breathing life into Trish, with him emotionally leaning on the embodiment of her makes for a fascinating dynamic to take in. We see a once playful relationship very gradually turn sour, Mick fully invested in the partnership as opposed to Trish who, used to Mick’s vulnerability takes advantage and spitefully emotionally and physically wears him down.
The Words Are There is a sustained watch, which is vital for the subject matter at hand. This allows for Mick to highlight the insidious nature of abuse and how it can often go unrecognised. The repetitive nature of the piece shows the painful cycle a victim endures – their self esteem shattered, which makes for a somber experience. Dempsey skilfully taps at the emotional core of the topic at hand, which isn’t an easy thing to do. I think the trajectory of the relationship under the microscope could be etched out more so to really highlight the emotional rollercoaster of an experience such as this, however Dempsey tackles this taboo subject honestly and thoughtfully which is to be commended. Theatre as therapy, a cathartic evening.
Written by Lucy Basaba.
The Words Are There is currently showing at The Hope Theatre until Saturday 25th November 2023. To find out more about the production, visit here…