Review by Elsa Klein
There’s something darkly satisfying about watching a nun smoke a cigarette. It’s like hearing your teacher accidentally swear or walking in on your grandmother trying out her new medical marijuana. It’s just a little bit naughty, but surprisingly heart-warming. ‘Folk’ was exactly that – a kind of tie between generations, between the religious and the non-religious, between people you wouldn’t expect to get along.
The plot was fairly simple. A nun, Winnie, and her best friend Stephen like to play songs and drink Guinness together. One Friday night, after the funeral of a local teenager, fifteen-year-old girl Keyleigh ‘accidentally’ throws a brick through Winnie’s stained-glass window. It turns out that Keyleigh is actually very sweet, very lonely, and Winnie invites her to join her and Stephen for another song. Their friendship develops, despite Stephen’s distrust for Keyleigh. In what becomes rather heart breaking, Winnie is diagnosed with Angina and becomes increasingly sick throughout the play, bringing Stephen and Keyleigh closer. It’s a play about friendship, about music, and about appreciating other people when life becomes hard. Overall, the script is actually quite static—it’s nice, it’s cute, but it mostly consists of conversations about all the interesting things that already happened offstage. The play is really tied together with interspersed folk songs. Stephen plays guitar while Winnie sings or grabs some spoons. Keyleigh learns to play a handmade recorder, and the three form a lovely little folk band. It’s the music that keeps the characters together, moves the story forward, and surprisingly makes you feel quite at home in a nun’s living room.
Acting as a whole was incredibly strong. Molly Williams performed a fearless and often hilarious Winnie. Joseph Kitching played the stubborn, grumpy and secretly soft Stephen in a way that really grew on the audience. Meanwhile, Heather Tiernan’s Keyleigh was an incredibly believable fifteen year old and carried really embodied the role. Together, the cast really pulled together a touching harmony—a sense of human appreciation and true friendship.
The set (Caelan Mitchell-Bennett) and costumes (Ileana Livingston) must also be commended. All the elements on stage placed the show in context without detracting from the simplicity of the tone and plot. The smashed stained-glass window at the top of the show was particularly impressive.
The cast and crew of ‘Folk’ created what can only be described as a touching, earnest performance. It was a joy to watch, and honestly changed my perception of nuns.