A soldier returns from war, a baby lies crying in its grandmother’s kitchen and a father struggles to hold on to his home in A Miracle. Molly Davies’s first full-length play is presented at the Royal Court as part of the Young Writer’s Festival 2009.
A Miracle brings together the lives of four adults striving for change in the flat countryside of rural Norfolk. Gary (Russell Tovey), a young man clad in imposing army uniform, arrives back home causing a ripple of events that alter each character’s perspectives on their lives. Amy (Kate O’Flynn), once a girl Gary went to school with and never looked twice at, is now a naive young mother, struggling to bond with Cara, a baby she never asked for, and constantly scraping the imaginary remnants of chicken skin from her fingers after working at a nugget factory all day. Val (Sorcha Cusack), her long suffering Nan, is primary carer of the child. Her sugar coated criticisms and resistance to let Amy become more involved are in direct contradiction to her pleas for Amy to accept her responsibility. Lastly, Gary’s Father (Gerard Horan) is still desperately working the land he is to lose, once a figure of strength, now a broken, but still proud, man hiding a poorly kept secret.
Seduced by Gary’s desire for a better life and his declaration that Cara is ‘bootiful’, Amy falls into a relationship with the returning hero. But Val’s belief that the army doesn’t create gentlemen is proved right as toad-in-the-hole and lemon supreme dinner dates quickly progress to lines of Ketamine and unromantic quickies in Amy’s tiny kitchen. Where the flame of hope and change once burned, ideals are soon replaced with the desire to run away, and the idea of becoming a family is soon flecked with violence and inconvenience.
The Jerwood Theatre Upstairs is transformed into a farm for the play, with a muddy grass covered floor and bags of manure and tractor wheels in each corner. Set in the round, on one side of the stage Amy’s Grandmother’s kitchen sits amongst the field, on the other is Amy’s single bed and minimal kitchen. A dilapidated roundabout is placed in the middle, a reminder of Gary and Amy’s shared childhood, before they were faced with the lives they have unwittingly built.
Full of hope and dead-ends in equal measures, Davies’s play is about the search for a better life whilst living in a state of such disillusionment that even fantasies cannot extend past the boundaries of reality. But sometimes a miracle can take place, even when you’ve tried absolutely everything in your power to crush it.