Belfast Telegraph

The Gift review: Bewitching Mary's present with a twist

By Grania McFadden

Charles Wray's story lasts an hour, but takes place in just the blink of an eye. It lets us into the mind of Mary, a precociously talented pianist, who grows up with her mother and brother after her father, a sailor, ups anchor and leaves them under the watchful eye of neighbour Ellie.

Then Mary's musical talent results in another gift: one which distances her from her brother Keith, but brings her closer to her dream.

Confusion lasts a moment, before we realise we're inside Mary's mind, experiencing life as she remembers it. The tale unfolds as we're led through a series of bright rooms, with only the red of Mary's dress and that of a toy piano to distract the eye.

Director Paul McEneaney's ingenious set plays as much a part in the story as the actors - sounds and music colour the surroundings as vividly as any paint box.

This wouldn't be a Cahoots show without a twist - and so it transpires that the end of the show is really the beginning.

Bewitching and beguiling; it's a beautifully performed piece, which offers much to think about. For what's a gift but a present? And the present is the best gift of all.

Four stars

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