Bríd Brennan, Liz White and more impress in Deborah Bruce’s striking new drama Dixon and Daughters at the National Theatre
“I come in peace”
Dixon and Daughters arrives at the Dorfman in a co-production between the National Theatre and Clean Break and emerges as a rather unexpected thing, a striking new drama of real intrigue. Deborah Bruce’s play clocks in at just 90 minutes and as such, whips up its atmosphere of disquiet and dysfunctional with real pace and skill.
Bríd Brennan’s Mary has returned home after three months in prison and treading on eggshells, her family has gathered to welcome her back. Daughters Bernie and Julie, the latter having moved in to escape an abusive partner, and granddaughter Ella are met with Mary’s new friend-from-inside Leigh who is coming to stay and they all eventually settle down to some kind of truce.
But when Mary’s stepdaughter Briana, formerly known as Tina, turns up at the door, even that uneasy peace is shattered. For there’s family secrets aplenty here, revealed in painstaking detail in a measured manner, many centring on the deceased patriarch of the family, his legacy looming over the family even from the local cemetery.
Róisín McBrinn’s production is beautifully poised, at ease in withholding information yet suggesting the innate unease through the textures of Paule Constable’s lighting and Sinéad Diskin’s sound which deliver their surprises on Kat Heath’s split-level set. And the powerhouse cast do so well at uncovering the trauma that lies at the heart of so much of their pain, Liz White and Alison Fitzjohn really impressing.