BY KATHRYN PIERCE
In Collaboration with @SomewhereEDI
[star rating = 4/5]
Set in late 90s Cork, Soho Theatre’s DRIP FEED is an immersive experience – an evocative, unapologetic and sharply-funny painting with words, detailing the life, loves and losses of lesbian Brenda. Directed by OONAGH MURPHY, it is a visceral and powerful monologue written and performed by KAREN COGAN; a fierce piece of writing, boldly and darkly depicting the struggle to cope with ending relationships, the role of friends-as-family, and the entanglements of intense love which spill into self-harm and humiliation. The play is laced with a familiar blur of nineties dance music, alcohol, hangovers and regrets, set to an exposed backdrop of harsh weather and harsh realities.
As I shared The Bubble venue with 40 others, in a comfortable domed-shaped space which gave Karen M Cogan all the necessary room to tell her story, she occasionally broke the fourth wall, which further authenticated it, like Brenda herself had turned up and chosen us to hear her vibrant and visceral truth.
An impressive, highly-descriptive piece; we were treated to a virtual scratch-and-sniff map of Brenda’s hometown where she’s “part of the Cork furniture” – with well-worn family stomping grounds, and the refuges of sticky-floored nightclubs and old pubs well past their best.
Brenda’s story is a triumph of survival, and the fight to be yourself as a young-ish gay woman and all the sh*t that comes with that; being desperate for love and freedom in a small town in Ireland, where the lesbian community is pretty thin on the ground and everyone knows everyone else’s business. However, as the story begins by chronicling the messiness of first love, the early years of self-discovery, and coming out, it soon emerges as a vivid and dark fable for those who slip through the cracks in their 20s and get stuck.
It’s a wonderful thing to find a play that paints a minds-eye picture so vividly you can see Brenda’s bloodied shirt, feel the cold wind against her, recall the brain-shift of heavy drunkenness and taste the array of cheap food eaten to soak up the night before. I found myself imagining my own life as Brenda and how easily that might have happened, and I thank my lucky, privileged stars it didn’t.
This piece is like biting down on a big burger full of real-life, and chewing through every morsel before swallowing. It is a gutsy tale and has certainly left its mark, both in my heart and in my stomach. Go and see it.