Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Since Maggie Went Away, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Paul Whitelaw.
Written and performed by Jacqueline Nolan, Since Maggie Went Away is, in her own words, “a fictionalised autobiographical piece” about the indelible effect of institutionalised child abuse in the Catholic Church.
Nolan plays a version of herself making a tentative pilgrimage to the orphanage where her mother Maggie was raised. She also plays Maggie as a young woman in the 1950s, an innocent soul indoctrinated with the terrifying wrath of the nuns and priests who raised her.
As the narrative flits between generations, a tragic tale emerges of systemic abuse that went unchallenged for decades.
When Maggie falls pregnant – there is a suggestion she was raped – her callously God-fearing guardians immediately remove this “Devil’s spawn” from her care.
Maggie later marries and has more children, all unaware of the existence of their illegitimate brother.
When, as an adult, Nolan eventually discovers the truth and tracks him down, his story is even more harrowing than Maggie’s.
Though fired by righteous anger – how could it not be? – Nolan’s deeply felt, if unevenly paced, treatise is leavened by lyrical humour and the partially redeeming notion that the horror endured by thousands of innocent children is finally being acknowledged.
theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39) until 15 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015
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