On at Ovalhouse until 21st October 2017
We all know the feeling of keeping a secret. I expect many of us know the feeling of letting a secret slip (whether we’d admit it or not). So in the era of Wikileaks and whistleblowers, Angela Clerkin’s dark fairytale, The Secret Keeper, makes for a good exploration of how we, as individuals and a society, manage our secrets.
Early on in the action, we discover that The Good Daughter, played by Clerkin, has a hidden talent. Her father (Niall Ashdown) stumbles across it – he’s been trapped in a depression ever since his brother was murdered nine years ago and has always been presumed the murderer. He has a deep, dark secret that causes him such misery, and so his daughter offers to keep it safe for him. He whispers his secret to her and is immediately catapulted from his depression in to a new found ecstasy; the stars glow brightly and he skips off to celebrate. Soon The Good Daughter’s Father and Mother (Anne Odeke) are inviting people from all over the town to come and relieve themselves of their secrets. We see the abuse of power play out as the wide-eyed, childlike, but never childish Good Daughter grows more and more tired from the burden she carries. The secrets continue to gather, as does the tension, until of course – as one might predict, everything comes crashing down.
The show opened at the end of the week where the truth about Weinstein had finally come rushing out across the media, and it was impossible not to draw the parallels from questions raised in the show to news headlines from across the week: Who keeps the secrets? Who tells the secrets? Who listens to the secrets? And who has the power?
Lucy J Skilbeck joins Angela Clerkin in directing The Secret Keeper and they’ve done an admirable job of keeping the balance of light and dark in equal measure. There are some great comedy moments from the dynamic and talented cast, who were all thoroughly watchable throughout. A nod to a lesbian couple that live in the town, with no further deal made about it, leaves me hopeful that we’re moving towards the place where LGBT+ characters can be mentioned, incidental to a larger plot and neither sensationalised or explained. Songs were an added bonus, and for me really pulled this piece tightly together.
All in all a dark and delectable fairytale raising some timely questions.