The play, co-produced by The Royal National Theatre and Out of Joint, is receiving its world premiere here at the Cottesloe theatre and is directed by Max Stafford-Clark.
The story is set in 1953 in Jervis Street Hospital, Dublin and concerns Mai O' Hara, a woman dying of liver cancer at the age of 53, brought about because of her alcoholism. She is now nearing the end of her life and in great pain. The morphine she is taking makes her hallucinate and think back to her childhood and her disastrous relationship with her husband and daughter. She is also struggling to reconcile herself with the memories of her son, who died shortly after his birth because of her drinking.
Sinead Cusack (making her Royal National debut) puts in a phenomenal performance as the dying woman. Her performance is incredibly moving as she wriggles in physical pain from the cancer and mental pain from her memories of her tortured life. Nigel Terry is convincing as her alcoholic and foul husband who blamed his wife for the death of their child, but who is now sorry for his past deeds and tries to help her die peacefully by visiting her and sending her flowers. Catherine Cusack is impressive as their daughter Joanie, who had a miserable childhood being brought up by two alcoholic parents and is now suffering the anguish of watching her mother die. She is torn between her love for her mother and at the same time the hatred she feels because of her ruined childhood.
The play has received great notices from the popular press. JOHN PETERS of THE SUNDAY TIMES says "Bedridden but not bowed, Sinead Cusack leaves a lasting impression of a quiet Irish tragedy in a powerful new play". BILL HAGERTY of THE NEWS OF THE WORLD says "A major play from a major talent, it's unmissable". NICHOLAS DE JONGH says Sinead Cusack gives an "Astounding performance". PETER HEPPLE of THE STAGE says, "Beware, Our Lady of Sligo is probably the most heart-rending play you are likely to see this year".
Lasting two and half-hours this is a shattering and emotional play that will move you. It is both touching and sad and makes one realise that we are not of this world long and we are ourselves mainly to blame for our own unhappiness.