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Get the Boat & Innit

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Innit: Colette Forde  Photo: SoHo Playhouse

Deirdre Donovan


Colette Forde’s Innit and Eavan Brennan’s Get the Boat, now in repertory at the SoHo Playhouse, are the inaugural productions of the venue’s new global initiative to stage works written by emerging new female playwrights.  The two aforementioned plays are by Irish women and were featured at the Limerick Fringe Festival this past year.  Both plays tackle pertinent social issues viewed from a woman’s perspective.


The solo play Innit, directed by Forde, is the more cohesive of the two offerings.  Set in Manchester in the ‘90s, we meet the teen Kelly Roberts (ably performed by Forde) as she confides in a psychologist for the first time.  As the lights go up, we see Kelly at center stage sitting in a plain straight-backed chair, reluctantly unpacking her troubled heart to a psychologist. We learn about her working-class background, dysfunctional family, and intense feelings of isolation.  


The protagonist revisits a lot of painful memories. She recounts how her alcoholic father frequently would break his promises to her as a young child.  Case in point,  Kelly would patiently sit by the phone, waiting for her father to call and take her to a promised movie.  When the phone remained silent, her mother would bluntly tell her that her father probably had a hangover and had forgotten about their father-daughter movie date.  Then to rub salt into the wounds, her mother cruelly would tell her young daughter that she would “amount to nothing.”


It’s easy to pigeon-hole Kelly as a rebel without a cause.  But, fortunately, Forde scratches beneath the surface of her character’s rough edges and reveals a sympathetic character.  The teen might use crude street language to describe her life and experiences.  But she becomes more likable as the monologue unfolds and we learn that she aspires to be an artist (she already sings solos at old-age homes with the choir).


The play is punctuated with fragments of dance routines projected on a large screen.  This adds a lot of energy to the piece and ensures that it doesn’t become an instance of mere adolescent naval-gazing.


If there is anything to quibble about in the production, it’s that the protagonist’s working class dialect is hard to decode at times.  Words like “slag” (think loose woman) and the peculiar title “Innit” (a conflation of the phrase “isn’t it”) won’t immediately register with an American audience.


That said, one eventually can get the gist of what Kelly is saying after the first 10 minutes.  Forde employs enough body language and facial expressions to drive her meaning home, even if her vocabulary is sometimes unfamiliar (and often vulgar).  Although the monologue ends with the heroine in a kind of limbo, the journey we take with Kelly invites us to revisit our teen years when we were betwixt and between adult and child.


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Eavan Brennan and Siobhan Donnellan  Photo: SoHo Playhouse



The second offering, Get the Boat, under the aegis of the Holy Show Theatre Company, seems more of an experimental piece than a fully-realized production.  It is a study of Ireland’s 8th Amendment (In 1983, equal rights were given to a mother and her unborn child in Ireland’s constitution) and the heartache it creates for Irish women who believe they should have more say about their own bodies.

Directed by Ruth Smith, the two-hander allows you to eavesdrop on the conversation of two pregnant Irish women, Grainne and Bridget (Eavan Brennan and Siobhan Donnellan) traveling on a ferry overseas to get abortions.  When they first meet, neither woman knows that the other is pregnant.  But as they share secrets in their double berth, their mutual pregnant condition—and intentions to terminate their pregnancies--become known.

While the play will potently speak to new millennial Irish women, it also will resonate with Americans who see how the national debate on abortion has reshifted under the Trump administration.  It’s no secret that conservative Republicans are currently trying to find ways to defund Planned Parenthood clinics in our country without requiring an act of Congress.

The play’s drab set, lighting, and costumes accurately reflect the bleak situation of Grainne and Bridget’s pregnancies.  Grainne, married with two children, learned from her doctor that she was carrying a fetus whose organs were growing outside its body.  The doctor vaguely spoke of “options” to Grainne—and left it at that.


Bridget, a single mom with a 7 year-old son, had an affair with her married boss and got impregnated by him.  Learning the news of her pregnancy, her boss insisted that she get rid of “it.”


I will refrain from telling you more about the play, except that there’s a lot of finger-pointing between Grainne and Bridget.  It seems that both women oddly like to inflict guilt on the other for seeking an abortion.


All things considered, Innit and Get the Boat are contemporary morality plays that underscore the #metoo and #Ibelieveher movements.  Whereas the former production has more dramatic muscle, the latter spearheads a crucial national debate on abortion.  And with the recent May referendum introduced to change Ireland’s 8th Amendment, Get the Boat points up just why the 8th Amendment sorely needs to be reconsidered today.


At the SoHo Playhouse, at 15 Vandam Street, Manhattan.

For tickets and more information, phone (212) 691-1555 or visit

Running time of Innit: 75 minutes with no intermission

Running time of Get the Boat:  50 minutes