There is a shocking scene in 'National Disgraces guide to the Red Line Luas' (essentially a summary of his many journeys on said public transport system since his extradition to Suburbia 6 months ago, written as a pretend movie review) where two ‘ladies’ of the skobie persuasion take the romantic lead, in a warts and all (literally) display of human debasement, for all fellow passengers to see. It was a lunch moving scene, where our two ‘heroins’ tongue wrestle each other, becoming one, and in turn cause every other passenger to question their own existences. This vomit riser sums up the Red Line Luas; Disgusting, and not at all sexy.
But it’s not like you’ve been lulled into a false sense of security though. The opening credits are barely over when the journey delivers its first sick twist. With obvious reference to George A Romero, passengers are seen as a blur trying to negotiate a minefield of the Undead and risking life, limb and handbag as they attempt to get off the ‘Square’ Luas platform to the relative safety of the tram itself. Romero’s Zombies have been given a modern makeover here, decked in leisure clothing and carrying strange urine coloured liquids in what were once Coca Cola Bottles, the Luas ‘Undead’ move quicker and can actually eject something resembling language. It’s terrifying, and you can sense the fear of each passenger as they pray the automatic doors nearest to them doesn’t open before it takes off. And so the scene has been set. If you thought this was going to be a pleasant travelogue, you’re wrong. Every time the tram speeds up, you share the relief of the passengers. But with sickening regularity, it begins to dawn on them that rather than getting away from danger as fast as they can, they’re actually hurtling towards it. Stop after stop, Skobie after skobie. Even the pre-recorded voice informing us of the next destination has an unnerving quiver in her voice. At one stage she says "Next stop", screams quite piercingly, goes a bit silent, and finishes with a whispering, paranoid "Fatima.." and all that can be heard when the tram makes its arrival at Four Courts is the sound of someone running away very, very fast.
It’s not a subtle journey, or an enjoyable one. But there are moments of comic relief. A group of girls arrive on at Kylemore, and in whatever confusion their life has brought (house being raided perhaps) they actually came out in their pyjamas. This raises a smile on the passengers faces, albeit only temporarily, as our ‘sleeping beauties’ are clearly not to be messed with. The dialogue shifts, like the scenery, to something more grey and industrial. There’s not so much poetry of the words as a total absence of any warmth. A full scale to and fro about thrush and the vital differences between STD and STI’s are ping-ponged around the carriages at astonishing volume. Some people are banging at the windows, trying franticly to get the attention of drivers, others bless themselves beneath showers of tears. The tram passes a church, which somehow even manages to look away sadly, in that way that a large church does
It’s only in the final quarter that they turn the horror up to 11. The arrival at ‘James Hospital’ signals the beginning of the trips frightening final stages. Like in many chilling classics, when day becomes night and good gives way to evil, the last stop before we enter the North Side is teased at us agonisingly. A last shot at freedom, those brave enough to take leave now, know that they’ll be spared ‘the crossing of the Liffey’ but in reality they’re only swapping one kind of horror for another. The evil ensemble is replenished here, for the journeys last acts, and the really big scares are introduced. Semi-bandaged, still connected to drips and some even in theatre gowns, one imagines the hospital of the damned has opened its doors and a mass evacuation has occurred. Clever sound effects add to the claustrophobic drama. Groans float above your head, sorrowful and heavy. What sounds like a chainsaw turns out to be two eyeless Skangers engaged in a noisy altercation. It’s a masterstroke of tension as the tram fills up. Once you see the water of the river pass underneath all hell breaks loose. I won’t spoil the ending, but what happens at the ‘Four Courts’ is so shocking that this writer was left thinking about ending it all with a fistful of popcorn. And the infamous lesbian scene. Much will be written of it. Was it a step too far to see two deathly thin women, each sporting a variety of lesions and bruises (as if to say beauty is more than skin deep) embrace so passionately? As their saliva stuck to their battered skin, forming little glistening pools on their faces, do we see ourselves in the reflection?
I certainly didn’t, as I was too busy vomiting.