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Review: Drip Feed – written and performed by Karen Cogan

Drip Feed by Karen Cogan 2018. Photographer Aly Wight.
Drip Feed by Karen Cogan 2018. Photographer Aly Wight.

Dark and cheery, drunk and teary, Drip Feed is eventful, to say the least. Karen Cogan’s non-stop, no-pity delivery of a day in the life of ‘Brenda’ renders what might otherwise be a genuinely dark story into a sort of comedy routine. Perhaps apt considering the material: Brenda is gay, Irish, works in a smelly café and follows her ex-girlfriend around.

The play begins with a classic morning-after scene: Brenda curled up on the sofa bed, shirt half undone, half off. ‘Don’t f*cking throw-up, Brenda’ are the opening lines, bluntly introduces our narrator. The following 60 minutes are a whistle-stop tour through casual homophobia, family disputes, mental illness, (conservative) Cork culture, loneliness and love. Kogan’s delivery is very dry and very funny, which lends itself well to moments of harsher reality, achieving a kind of ‘well, f*ck it’ attitude in a pretty gloomy script.

The stage is relatively bare, except for some very 90s cable lights and a plastic rabbit or two. Minimal lighting or sound leaves Kogan isolated and vulnerable. Though she might have no sympathy for herself, there is certainly a sense of loneliness to her tale.

The central event of Brenda’s life has already passed: Olivia, her long-lost lover, has moved on to an English woman, named Sam. Brenda has absolutely not moved on, lying to others and herself about the reality of their relationship. She troops around Cork, drinking and dancing and drinking with her best mate Veronica, trying to get over it all and move in.

Cogan’s cheery delivery alleviates the generally depressing life she leads, but this cheeriness is prone to removing any real emotional connection. The whole script is jammed into 60 minutes, and could perhaps have done with some cuts; there is fine line between brisk and disconnected. With the minimal set and laughs-per-minute pace, this feels more like a comedy routine than a piece of theatre.

Writing and performing one’s own script can make for a more authentic performance, but it can also reduce creativity. There might have been a sense of ‘performance’ as a means of coping, where Brenda is generating laughs in order to avoid confronting her own problems, but with such broad themes being addressed, a moment’s pause here or there might have added a little emotional connection.

Cogan’s performance is funny and honest, but doesn’t quite find the line between comedy and storytelling.

3 Star Review

Review by Thomas Froy

A fast, infectious, dark comedy about the messiness of being youngish, female and queer in Ireland.
Cork. 1998. Brenda and her best pal are part of the furniture. Dancing on tables and 3am breakfast rolls. But what if you wake up hungover and broken on the wrong person’s doorstep, realise you’ve got it wrong, all wrong, and it might just be too late?

From award-winning producers Soho Theatre and Fishamble

Soho Theatre and Fishamble present
DRIP FEED
WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY KAREN COGAN
Mon 24 Sep – Sat 20 Oct 2018
https://sohotheatre.com/

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