POSTSCRIPT: Powerful telling of a story from the silence

March 30, 2015
Sunday Business Post, March 29th 2015, by Brendan Daly

Postscript is an autobiographical story of one woman’s search for her identity. Noelle Brown, who co-wrote the script and performs in this production, was born into a mother-and-baby home in Cork in the mid-1960s and adopted shortly after.
Postscript opens as the 35-year-old Brown begins to take the first tentative steps in piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of her family history. Rather than depicting herself on stage, Brown assumes a persona in the form of an inept private investigator, Breda Brogan, employed to uncover the circumstances of Brown’s adoption.
Premiered at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2013, Postscript evocatively explores fate, betrayal, and the fluidness of identity. Loosely using the narrative framework of a detective story, the play unfolds as a series of letters to and from Brown that chart the breakthroughs and obstacles she encounters on her quest.
Through these letters, we discover that Brown’s mother was 18-year-old Mary O’Brien, a hotel worker, and the unadorned script is franked with tender details that illuminate the pain involved in Brown’s search: the frustrations of Mother’s Day, the gaping physical discrepancy between her and her adoptive family, and the callousness of a typo – incorrectly recording the year of her birth – on the terse birth papers she eventually receives from the mother-and-baby home.
The top note of the play is Brown’s personal story, but this poignantly melds with the political – and excavates a shameful chapter in our recent history – in an anguished letter to a priest friend of Brown’s birth mother.
In it, Brown scrupulously questions the power wielded by the Church to physically and morally condemn her birth mother then, and to remain unaccountable due to Canon Law now. She never receives a reply.
Although the candid script eschews direct action in favour of a recital of the letters by Brown and Bríd Ní Neachtain, the two actors conjure up quietly compelling performances, with the latter vividly portraying multiple characters, most memorably Brown’s haranguing Auntie Patty.
Brown and Ní Neachtain, devoid of props, harness Postscript’s searing restraint and deceptively simple storytelling to devastating effect, under the astute direction of Conor Hanratty.