Shiv (short for Siobhan), played by Roisin Gallagher, in a scene from “The Dry” TV series. IMDb photo

In the opening scenes of Paddy Breathnach and Nancy Harris’s “The Dry,” we meet Shiv (short for Siobhan played by Roisin Gallagher) arriving home unexpectedly from London in a cab.

She seems surprised that no one in the family is there to meet her. Once you meet this family, you’ll wonder if she really grew up with them.

Even for the Irish, each one has an extra giant size of problems. Mom (Pom Boyd) has long been a friend of the “sauce” and seems never to comb her bonnet of unruly black hair.

Dad is Tom (Ciaran Hinds), who wants to be a strong hand but wisely keeps his mouth shut when all the others need his advice.

We learn that Mom and Dad live on an agreed island of mutual silence with two dysfunctional children who live in theirs.

Mom has her luncheon wine and keeps bugging the guy across the street, whom she suspects has quietly murdered his wife.


Shiv’s laced-up tight sister, Caroline (Siobhan Cullen), who serves in some kind of medical office and wants to cohabit with her boss, lives daily with a sexually confused health nut and amateur athlete, who pines for multiple sexual adventures.

Added to this zoo of sitcom dwellers there is Ant, (Adam John Richardson) a damaged and confused gay job seeker who has a Black lover, who has his own secret lover.

So, into this human dilemma Shiv arrives, holding an enormous suitcase that any family knows is holding everything she owns — and doesn’t this family know it.

We meet the family in this modern, well-kept neighborhood that, lucky for us, consists of some of Ireland’s finest actors.

Shiv walks in the door, as sober as a judge, as any Irish mother would tell you — well an Irish judge in a ’50s John Ford movie maybe.

But this is modern Dublin, and the lovely-to-look-at Shiv appears as straight as a pub’s Guinness handle. Our Shiv is a good, somewhat, five months, two weeks and eight minutes sober. In Irish time, that’s about an hour.


Shiv is home, as fresh as the morning newspaper, for her grandmother’s wake. Grandma’s body has been displayed in a box in the living room, for God knows how long, where each member of the family gets to fuss about what the corpse is wearing.

Remember now, fold this in your mind and heart, this is modern Ireland, not the imagined Ireland of John Ford, but by sassy female writer Nancy Harris, unknown to this Irish American reviewer, who won awards like the Rooney Prize for literature in 2012.

You will get to know her touch and each of the real Irish folk, like the Chinese acupuncturist Lee (Edison Thai Leung, who will shock you), whose father Tom is addicted in several ways.

All players, each a gem, stumble around in this strange, often bewildering sitcom, like a damaged clan of real upper (sort of) middle-class Dublin creatures who live in their own private closets and come out eventually to entertain us with the light up the sky revelations.

Currently, you can watch “The Dry” streaming on AMC Plus Apple TV Channel, AMC+ Amazon Channel, AMC+, Acorn TV, Sundance Now and AcornTV Amazon Channel.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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