With a storyteller’s dream as the structure, Pillow on the Stairs is an intersecting trio of monologues that tell the story of three people and their connection through the past and how the choices from the long-ago altered their future. Set in Ireland, the piece follows the lives of Annie, Margaret, and Jim, three souls searching for closure. The model of a monologue play requires exquisite storytelling skills. It needs to be a little more than a live book on tape. Believing you are experiencing the story is essential. Crehan’s storytelling skills are present but it seems to lack drive. The story is not necessary an active one but the monotonous personal arias may be the cause of the dead air moments. This is not a play that wants to be restructured but it would be greatly aided by momentum and liveliness in storytelling.
Playwright Brona Crehan, Jacqueline Kealy, and John McConnell as Annie, Margaret, and Jim respectively had moments of wonderful storytelling. Though the majority of their respective tales allowed for monotony in manner, the moments of animation and emotion were special. Jacqueline Kealy as the damaged Margaret brought an excited aura to her saga. Margaret has clearly been through a lot, still battling the demons of the past. John McConnell, who happens to be a dead-ringer for Robin Williams, played a very active part in the love triangle but he’s passive demeanor allowed you to somehow relate to him despite his actions. Crehan’s portrayal was quite interesting. She almost made you believe her character was over the whole situation, pain free. Her only downfall was, despite quite an intimate space, her vocals were especially soft, making it difficult to hear her story.
|photo courtesy of James Higgins|
Overall, Pillow on the Stairs is a show filled with heart but it is lacking the “wow” factor. Sometimes less is more, but when too little is just not enough, it makes the vision incomplete.