Maz and Bricks by the Irish playwright, Eva O’Connor at 59E59 is a love story. But not a typical love story. It is the story of two strangers who meet on a Dublin tram (the Luas), are separated, and then encounter each other as they try to find their way through the streets of Dublin, she to a pro-choice demonstration against Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, banning abortion, and he to his ex-wife’s to take his daughter to the zoo. Each is angry; each must seek forgiveness. And as one famous Dubliner put it: [you may] “…think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.”
When we first meet Maz (played by the playwright herself) on the Luas she has an endearing fierceness about abortion and is headed for a pro-choice rally to declare justice for Irish women and the young Eimear who died because she couldn’t get an abortion in Ireland. The obnoxious working class lout, Bricks (Ciaran O’Brien), on the phone bragging to his friend about the shag he had the night before, eventually becomes a bit of a charmer both to Maz and to us, the audience as we learn more about them both.
They part and then meet by accident as they roam the streets of Dublin. It doesn’t take long to discover the secret torment of each. He immediately knows that she has had an abortion. There is something heartening in his astute observation of Maz. She remains defensive and does not think much of him – “he’s probably as thick as one, sing songing his life story in my face.”
The quick back and forth of the dialogue on the tram is suspended when the characters are separated. They speak out to the audience in kind of poetic, stream of consciousness reminiscent of Joyce. Maz: “try me I think just try my patience. It’s shriveled already it’s papery thin.” Bricks: “…and keep an eye on me bowels they’re brewing and stewing, and let’s just say doing things I don’t want them to.”
When they do collide accidentally, they are bound for the rest of the day wandering through Dublin from a Capel Street bar and Stephen’s Green, and then back to the Rosie Hackett Bridge in a simple, unobtrusive set by Maree Kearns of gray almost symbolic blocks that become metaphoric stepping stones toward clarity lit by Sinead McKenna that appropriately yet subtly accentuates the emotional stage of the characters’ separate journeys that they take together. For along the way they share their mutual pain and shame: she about her sexual abuse, pregnancy, abortion, and mother’s rejection; he about the suicide of his brother, Anto, and his love and devotion to his daughter. They are both beautifully reconciled to their past shame, and for Maz in “Anto’s name too [she’ll] swallow this pain and go on living.” Bricks on this anniversary of his brother’s drowning, is “drowning out yesterday.” Together they separately find their personal redemption, their own way home to themselves.
Maz and Bricks is part of the 12th annual Origin 1st Irish festival, and runs from January 7 through February 3. It is the only theater festival exclusively dedicated to new works of Irish playwrights. This laudable production was finely directed by Jim Culleton, artistic director of Fishamble – Ireland’s leading new writing company.