Intemperance is the tragically beautiful tale of an Irish family who set up in Liverpool and despite living in painful, cramped, damp conditions, each of their dreams is alive in one way or another.
Social inequality is rife in Victorian Great Britian with a huge influx of people coming into the larger cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool causing friction between those living with only thin walls between them.
Working families were forced to share close and dirty conditions, it was not unlikely that these families all shared one room.
We watch Millie’s hopes of a better life rise and fall all while the resentment from her children towards her and her new husband plays a constant part throughout.
John O’Mahony’s character Fergal Monahan was my personal favourite, his tall stories about his time at sea maintained a glimmer of hope within everybody, especially in his grandson Ruairi.
Ruairi McLoughlin, played by Thomas Grant, is a man with little mind and plenty of anger. His resentment for everyone around him comes from his limited knowledge of the world around him. Especially his racist attitude towards those who have travelled to Liverpool to make a better life.
Brynjar Sildnes, played by Øystein Kanestrøm, is subject to much of Ruairi’s anger as he is the perfect gentlemen despite his current situation. Ruairi and his sister Niamh seem to think that Brynjar wants to fix them and can’t see that why someone like him would be in love with their mother.
Brynjar is trying to pave the way for a new life for himself, Millie, their child and her children but the family seem to be self-destructing and doing all they can to stop it.
Niamh Finlay plays Millie’s eldest child Niamh McLoughlin perfectly. She is also trying to pave her own way but cannot seem to figure out exactly what she wants. She has a complicated relationship with her family, like many others who were forced to live on top of each other.
Written by Lizzie Nunnery and directed by Zoe Waterman, the New Vic Theatre’s performance of Intemperance was chilling, claustrophobic, beautiful, tear-jerking and despite everything, leaves the audience feeling hopeful.
The motif of music and how it can bring people together at the worst of times is used throughout the play. The neighbours, with nothing but some thin walls between them, break out into song as one unit. It reminds us that no matter what people are going through, there will always be music.
The stage was moved between each scene so that eventually, everyone was able to see every part of the set. There was only one set and five actors but by turning it slightly each time, it refreshed the perspective of the audience.
I would not hesitate to recommend that you go to see Intemperance at the New Vic, it was a stunning performance that left me in tears while keeping me laughing throughout.
Intemperance will be at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme until Saturday 20 April. Visit newvictheatre.org,