Throbbing bass notes are heard as we're introduced to Brenda, sprawled face down across a poorly made sofa bed. Whether this soundtrack is intended to represent her heavy, hungover heartbeat, or claustrophobic overspill from the thin walls of a neighbouring flat, a grim scene is established. Writer and performer Karen Cogan starts Drip Feed as she means to go on, immersing us in the oppressive environs of Cork in the late 90s.
Cogan finds touching scraps of humour, love and camaraderie amid the waste-strewn landscape she describes. The opening scene has Brenda indulging in broad comedy as she covertly rummages through a girlfriend's bin. Later, more level-headed moments find her recounting how she and her friends came to feel at ease with their sexuality, their bonds strengthened by the intolerance of others. This is a coming-of-age tale, and so a euphoric nightclub scene naturally features.
In many respects, Cogan is too comfortable navigating the world of Drip Feed, dwelling on the most tawdry aspects of a life the writer presumably felt compelled to escape. An exhausting negativity pervades the piece. Cogan is no Andrea Dunbar, a playwright who found humour and life in the unpleasant realities of her environment. Instead, she appears to be trading in self mythology, immortalising yesterday's grime through one-note gutter poetry. There are deftly-handled moments here, but we spend a lot of time wallowing in muck to reach them.