MAY THE ROAD RISE UP by Rosemary Jenkinson, dir. Stephen Kelly (C21 Theatre)
Cast: Christine Clare
A one-woman dark comedy set in contemporary Belfast that is an energetic, funny and compelling tale of how easy it is, with the right (or wrong) combination of events, to slip into homelessness. It’s highly topical in its unflinching look at credit card debt, the benefits system, addiction to prescription drugs, and living on the streets
Mia is a Tesco’s delivery driver. However, she gets into credit card debt. To relieve the stress, she begins to party too much and take recreational drugs at the weekend. She injures her back at work from doing too much overtime. She has to leave her job and she goes on benefits, trying to claim ESA, but, in being truthful, she fails to score enough points.
Mia takes a range of prescription painkillers like Lyrica due to her back pain and, as she becomes hooked, her mind becomes fuzzier.
She can’t manage to pay the rent, thanks to the bedroom tax, and the landlord evicts her. She has nowhere to go, so she ends up sleeping on her friend Paddy’s sofa until his partner asks her to leave. She tries to get in at a homeless hostel but it’s full and she has no choice but to live on the freezing streets with some failed asylum seekers. She begs in order to buy enough prescription drugs to make her life bearable.
Out of the blue, a year later, she meets her old friend, Paddy, in the street. Paddy has cleaned up his act and has just opened a party planner business and is looking for someone to set up party venues. Paddy reminds her of the fun times they used to have together and offers her a job. As Mia attempts to lift herself from the streets, it strikes her that she has been through so much, she can no longer party herself but, in a poignant glimpse of hope for the future, she can focus on helping others to celebrate great times.