In a remote fishing village, three sisters – Breda, Clara and Ada – live in the enclosed world of their kitchen, re-enacting a night of heartbreak at the New Electric Ballroom. The events of this night have defined their lives, leaving them hopelessly stuck. But when Patsy, the local fishmonger, is allowed into their cloistered lives, he reveals a secret from his past that unravels the rigid structures of the story.
Set in the intimate, triangular space of the SBW Stables Theatre, The New Electric Ballroom isn’t flashy; instead it has a rustic simplicity that relies on the power of Enda Walsh’s lyrical words. This is enhanced by moments of silent symbolism and moods created by subtle changes in lighting.
The wit and wordiness of the dialogue also create a lot of humour; yet once again, this isn’t flamboyant but rather understated and genuine, highlighting the irony and silliness of real life. Combine this with careful plotting and a sense of mystery, the results is a story that sucks you in and then suddenly shocks you.
All these elements are bound together by flawless performances from all the cast. They are believable as a dysfunctional Irish family. This also requires speaking in full Irish Brogue, something they all do faultlessly. However, it’s Justin Smith as Patsy, who really steals the show. He creates some of the best comic moments, particularly the part when he jumps on the kitchen table and starts crooning to Ada, played by Jane Phegan.
But more than anything The New Electric Ballroom is about being stuck in patterns that don’t benefit us and how overriding fears in taking the risk to love, leaves one with a desolation more devastating than if they had never loved in the first place.
Until Mar 31, Griffin Theatre Company, SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod St, Kings Cross, $15-30, 9361 3817, griffintheatre.com.au