This Is Paradise @ Traverse Theatre

Amy Molloy is captivating in This Is Paradise, a monologue that considers the fragility of peace and the lasting effects of chaos and violence

Live Review by Aileas Pringle | 27 Aug 2021
  • This Is Paradise @ Traverse Theatre

This is Paradise is awash: Michael John O'Neill's powerful new monologue is full of water. It flows back and forth through time, evoking rivers, floods and oceans, symbolising forces at work between our histories and destinies that we can’t control.  

It’s Good Friday, 1998, and all the world’s players are descending on Belfast to “bring peace” to Northern Ireland. Kate gets a frantic and worried call to tell her that her ex-lover, a magnetic but malevolent figure named Diver, might be dead. Brendy, Kate’s husband, is everything Diver was not – Diver relishes chaos and destruction; Brendy is dutiful, reliable, and conciliatory. 

As the peace talks unfold on the other side of the city, attempting to draw a line under the bloody conflict, Kate’s memories of her and Diver’s relationship come flooding back to her. Brendy wants to have a baby, but Kate doesn’t believe her body is capable of carrying one; it isn’t a world she wants to bring a child into, in any case. She regards Brendy’s decency with scorn and is still irrevocably drawn to Diver’s misanthropic darkness.

Amy Molloy captivates as Kate, who is frank and candid but also jaded and weary. Her vivid reminiscences take us headfirst into the turbulent relationships in her past that have left her broken. The possibility of new beginnings is hinted at, but we can’t feel this will be an easy process: years of painful waiting seem to have all but eroded any hope. 

The monologue reveals the messy interplay between the past and the present, and the impossibility of neatly packing history away into boxes. The simplicity of Katherine Nesbitt's production works well for a piece that explores the uneasy juxtaposition between the characters' stories and the peace agreement taking place. This Is Paradise shows the alienation of such events for those who have lived through the preceding history, and the disbelief that decades of struggle could be drawn to a close “with a whimper… with a pen.”

This Is Paradise, Traverse Theatre, various times until 29 Aug, pay-what-you-can from £10; the show streams on-demand, 1-29 Sep, via