MD Theatre Guide Review: c21’s EXPECTING

Northern Ireland’s c21 Theatre Company, in conjunction with The Keegan Theatre, is currently presenting Expecting by Irish playwright Charis McRoberts. Described as a “poetic one-act play” featuring both deaf and hearing artists, the relatively short piece follows the ups and downs of Robbie and Shauna. Per the title, they are indeed expecting. With the impending life-changing event, the pair experience a roller coaster of emotions underlined by Shauna’s having to navigate a hearing world as a deaf person.

The acting is riveting. As Shauna, Paula Clarke exhibits the perfect combination of new mother doting on her child and wistful woman who had to leave behind a dream to embark upon another unanticipated one. Her delivery is both mesmerizing and haunting, putting Eoghan Lamb as Robbie in the position of having to play the grounded re-assurer while silently struggling with the anguish that seems to be eating away at him… Nevertheless, the duo are a convincing portrait of struggling parents, particularly in the wake of childhoods that have left their own marks.

Stephen Kelly’s direction is heavily anchored in a stripped-down minimalism, on occasion removed from this box during the actors’ respective solo moments of manifesting their inner trauma. It works well and, consequently, evokes a keen appreciation for the talents of Lamb and Clarke.