Review: ‘The Big Deal’ directed by Úna McKevitt

Returning to the festival after last year’s success, Victor and Gord, Úna McKevitt brings The Big Deal to the Barn Theatre. Drawing some stylistic similarities with Victor and Gord in terms of its minimalistic set and startling music interludes (providing breaks in the performances and relieving some of the tension and seriousness of the subject matter), the play is performed by two actors: Úna Kavanagh and Shani Williams.

The stage is lit with a mixture of fluorescent lights and spotlights, which helps set the scene projected by the actors. We later learned the fluorescent lights are used to signify the hospital, the set just a bench located under the fluorescent lights at the back of the stage.  Microphones are used by the actors to project their voices during dialogue when they are relaying the words of other characters not on stage. As mentioned, music is played after deep, emotional scenes to lighten the mood – proving very uplifting.

The minimalist set design allowed the viewer’s attention to focus on the two central characters, and its simplicity gave their stories room to breathe, with no dramatic light shows or elaborate backgrounds distracting from the raw emotion of the subject matter.

The cast consists of two rather colourful characters, Cathy (formerly known as Seán) and Deborah (formerly known as Patrick), both transexual and based on actual people. The play is based on the journals of two actual transexuals and went in to the difficulties that both people faced after gender reassignment surgery. The play went into detail on what had to be done during both of their surgeries and this was a bit unsettling at times. A common difficulty that both characters faced, we thought, was dealing with their families after this change. Both families had different reactions.

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