Moment, a play by Deirdre Kinahan, Feb. 24-25, March 1-3, 8 p.m., Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

Department of Theatre press release

moment1NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Nial killed 12-year-old Hilary 14 years ago and he’s paid for his crime. He’s finding success: a great career and a beautiful new wife, but his family is shattered by the shame. His Mam, Teresa, dopes herself into a fog of lies, intent on pretending how ‘normal’ they are. She flutters and babbles on about happy families, acting the part of a naughty kitten when she’s really a drowned cat. Sister Ciara keeps things afloat, but sister Niamh is determined to destroy Nial’s perfect new life.

So the stage is set for Moment, a play by Deirdre Kinahan. Directed by Ellen Kaplan, professor of theatre, Moment portrays a family that lives in a fog of denial but can’t escape the explosive “trauma in a teacup” that tears them apart. The play, a major hit in London last year, is lightning fast and frighteningly funny, clear-eyed and compassionate, the play—like Nial—pulls no punches.

One afternoon, Nial and his new wife visit Niamh for tea, and the trauma of a long-buried crime can no longer be contained. We are thrust into the aftermath, we see what comes of taking a life. Why does a boy kill? Why does a teenager murder his kid sister’s friend? And how does the boy’s family keep from breaking apart after the “worst” is over?

moment2Moment is car crash theatre, a perfectly crafted play that explores the way we cope with trauma. It looks at how a family carries the burden of guilt as much as does the perpetrator himself. Inspired by real-life, high profile cases in Britain (Wayne O’Donoghue and Patrick O’Dwyer, among others), the play explores how families operate in a world of denial. “They spin around and pretend that it all hasn’t happened,” says Kinahan. “(As if…that it is all OK. When it plainly isn’t.”)

Director Ellen Kaplan is particularly interested in the ways violence affects everyone it touches. “Each character is put under a microscope and becomes a scaffolding upon which is built an intensely emotional field where the dynamics of the family play out,” she says of Moment.

Moment is about a family that can’t bear the truth. It’s taut and bright and funny—we all see ourselves in the loving and hating, the rivalries and grudges, the joys and miseries that go on in family kitchens. But the barbed ripostes turn vicious, bursting into explosions of rage that expose this family’s complicity in violence.

Tickets for Moment ($8 for adults, $5 for student/seniors, $3 for Smith students with ID) are available online or by contacting the Theatre Box Office,, 413-585-ARTS (2787). The Box Office ticket window is open Monday-Friday, 1-4 p.m.; also one hour before show time. Thursday, March 1, is Dollar Night for students. *Also, ask about special “tweet seats” on March 1, where you can tweet reactions during the play.

About the Playwright

Deirdre Kinahan is artistic director of Tall Tales Theatre Co. She has written many plays: BogBoy, Moment, Salad Day, Hue & Cry, Melody, Attaboy Mr Synge, Rum & Raisin, Summer Fruits, Knocknashee, Passage and Be Carna. Also, for children: Maisy Daly’s Rainbow, Rebecca’s Robin, Snow Child and The Tale Of The Blue Eyed Cat.

Kinahan is currently writing a new play for the Abbey Theatre and has two plays in development.

About the Director

Ellen W. Kaplan is chair of theatre at Smith, former director of Jewish studies, and professor of acting and directing. She has taught at Tel Aviv University and has performed and directed at the Khan, Sherover and Jerusalem Theatres and Hebrew University in Israel. Kaplan’s plays include: Soul of the City, a finalist for the Massachusetts Playwriting Fellowship (2009); With Dream Awakened Eyes, which has been performed in the US and in Bucharest, Romania; Pulling Apart, a finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference; and two short plays about prison life, adapted from original stories.