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Somewhere Out There You review: The enjoyable sweep of a head-spinning romance

Dublin Theatre Festival 2023: In Nancy Harris’s bold new play, creativity becomes a way to deal with loneliness

Somewhere Out There You

Abbey Theatre

“Sometimes you just know,” Casey says, watching her family squirm with horror at her recent news. What began as a simple introduction to her attentive new boyfriend, Brett, becomes a cringey pile-up of cliches about how they met, then skids off into places unexpected, with revelations of a near-spontaneous decision to move in together and an unprecedented marriage proposal. Talk about a whirlwind romance.

In Nancy Harris’s bold new play for the Abbey Theatre, creativity becomes a way to deal with loneliness. When Casey’s mother lets out a sigh about her daughter’s inelegance, remarking that even her name sounds unromantic, Brett responds: “It is an original one, though.” Casey’s prying sister, Cynthia, certainly seems to regard this kind landscaper who writes poetry and cooks quiches as too good to be true. Yet, played by a whipsmart Danielle Galligan, even she kicks up her heels when Brett (played by Cameron Cuffe) mentions that he watches the television programme she presents.

As the play teases the real identity of Casey’s mysterious fiance, it shows a studied fluency in romantic narratives, alluding to everything from Egyptian history and Shakespeare’s sonnets to Australian soap operas and Disney fantasies. Before one of their curiously routine separations, the two lovers break into absurd, movie-character pleas. “I love you,” says Brett. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” drawls Casey (who is played with heart by Eimear Keating).

This neon-bright promise of romance allows director Wayne Jordan to deliver his first big, colourful production in years, featuring apartments enclosed by tall tinsel curtains, the Dublin landmarks of Maree Kearns’s impressive set and the mid-century jazz of Sinéad Diskin’s music.


Tinsel can lose its shimmer, of course: when Cynthia confronts Casey, it seems out of concern that her sister may be the victim of a con artist. It’s hard not to think of her furious envy that Casey’s heated romance seems to not have cooled. At one point, Cynthia’s insecure husband, excellently played by Paul Reid, suggests sexual role-play as a way to escape their unhappy marriage: “I can be someone else,” he says.

As the play moves towards a calamitous wedding rehearsal dinner, there is less of a sense of its being able to elicit brutal admissions from its characters but the subversive conclusion still satisfies. Embrace what feels right in the moment, whether it be someone who allows you to be a version of yourself you like, the delightful steps of a forgotten dance or the momentary sparkle of tinsel. Don’t worry about “happily ever after”. Why not just be, happily?

Runs at the Abbey, as part of Dublin Theatre Festival, until Saturday, November 4th

Chris McCormack

Chris McCormack is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in culture